Release My Grip (Hold our blessings loosely and let Jesus hold us tight)

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1 (ESV)

When life is rough it’s easy to look back with rose colored glasses at an idealized version of the past and think life would be so much better if we could just go back. The problem of course is that unlike superheroes in science fiction movies or Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future,” we can’t go back. I remember in my hiking days 10 years ago in the state of Washington going on a hike for the first time to a new mountain and coming home on cloud 9, telling my friends I’d just done the most amazing hike of my life!!! I’d plan a return trip, and inevitably on the second time around feel a bit let down and deflated, because the experience just wasn’t the same. My solution? Get out my guide books and find a new mountain to climb!

My time exploring the outdoors a decade ago was truly a blessing - but one I held far too tightly. By the summer of 2009 some of my closest friends began to gently express concern that maybe I was taking things a bit too far. I’d racked up some injuries by that time, and was terrified by the thought I might not be able to run long distance and hike anymore, so I doubled down on my activity level, going for multiple long hikes on the weekends in the summer. My obsession basically turned to addiction, and my body couldn’t handle the non-stop stress it was under, leading to injuries not healing and eventually chronic pain.

Why do we try to hold on to the good things so tightly, especially if our theology says things of this earth are temporal but God is forever? Joni Eareckson Tada discusses this topic in her devotional titled “Release My Grip.” She quotes a rather peculiar passage of Scripture from Ecclesiastes 11:1 - “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Maybe your first reaction is a bit like mine - “Ok Solomon, what in the world are you trying to say here?”

What Joni says I think makes a lot of sense, particularly in light of the story I shared above: “When God gives you some extraordinary blessing, don’t clutch it with a white-knuckle grip, or you may destroy the very thing that makes it a blessing to you.” Our blessings can become a curse if hold them too tight and refuse to let go.

Life changes; people move or pass away, careers change, kids grow up and move away, leaders come and go, churches rise up and fall. At times this is a scary, painful truth, but it’s one we can’t escape. So how do we deal with the shifting sands of life? I loved Joni’s suggestion:

Hold life’s blessings loosely. Be thankful for the people, places, and situations God brings into your life today, but also be willing to let the blessings go, should God choose to take them away. One day, He will return what He has removed—or replace it with something better.

Enjoy life’s blessings, but don’t hold on to them; anything lost in this life will one day be replaced with something far, far greater as we enjoy the company of our Savior - a blessing that will never end!