Holding Loosely

By Melissa McLaughlin

Holding Loosely

There it was in a tangled knot. My mother’s precious necklace. This was a sweet heirloom, the necklace my father had given her upon their engagement. She passed this graceful keepsake along to me as a young adult. Because my mother didn’t wear a lot of jewelry and because they didn’t have a lot of money, this necklace was extra special to me. It wasn’t extravagant or costly. It was treasured in my heart for what it symbolized, the enduring love of my parents, now passed along to me. The pendant was delicate with a chain of slender silver link. I wore it only on special occasions as an adornment of cherished love.

Somehow on this day, as I reached for this beloved piece of jewelry, the tender silver strand had formed a giant knotted metal ball, like a tattered yarn ball batted around by fiercely frolicking felines.

I tried to pull, first one way and then tug the other, but the chain ball only tightened. I had been through this headache before, trying to unknot a tangled necklace, but this time, the silvery tendrils wouldn’t budge.

After several attempts, I finally tried holding each part loosely and very gently rubbing the knot between my fingers, allowing the individual strands the space to move and pull apart ever so slightly. With this light touch, the ball of metal began loosening little by little, so that after some time, I could finally pull one strand through and unlock the key to this gnarled necklace puzzle.

It was free! The necklace was released and returned to its lovely original design hanging loosely around my neck, as a remembrance of the devotion of my parents and a testament to their commitment over the years.

Pulling, tugging and clinging did nothing. It was a loose hold and a gentle touch that set the knot free.

Perhaps this light touch wields its own kind of soft power. Perhaps this light touch is exactly what we should strive to use as we pass through this world in which we live.

In my post titled, “One Thing You Lack”, we learned that Jesus asked some piercing questions about the people and things to which we cling in this life – possessions, positions, places, relationships, homes, jobs and more.

The Man Who Held Too Tightly

Jesus addressed this possessiveness in the Bible passage where he met a rich young man. The man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Through the man’s questions and comments, it was evident that he had kept many of God’s commands. However in the end he was unable to love God more than his treasures.

The story picks up here in Mark 10:20-28 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Understandably, the disciples were troubled by this exchange. Jesus responded to Peter’s question with an equally uncomfortable answer, as the passage continues here in Mark 29-30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

What are we to do then, those of us who love Jesus?

We may ask ourselves, should we sell our home? Should I leave my job? Should I move somewhere else? Should I sell all I have and give everything away? Where would I live? Wouldn’t I end up being a burden to someone else?

These are difficult questions indeed. Perhaps we should look more closely. As recorded in the New Testament, following Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, the Early Church was formed. The Early Church grew as Paul and other church leaders traveled from place to place sharing the good news of Jesus, the Messiah. Though their missionary journeys took them far and wide, in each place they visited, many new believers remained in their homes leading and serving the people in their communities.

Clearly, both were needed, those who left all behind to share the news of Christ and those who stayed in their homes hosting new believers and mentoring one another in their Christian faith. However, let us not glibly excuse ourselves from Jesus’ strong statements in the passage listed above in Mark 10.

If both are needed, then the question we might ask ourselves is this:

Am I holding loosely?

What is God calling me to do? Am I holding loosely to the things God has given me or do they have a hold on me? Am I able to let go of anything or anyone if God asks?

Are you able to sell your home if God can best use you in another location?

Are you able to leave your job if God is calling you to begin a new ministry?

Are you able to let go of that relationship that does not align with His Word, the Bible?

Are you able to give your money to that needy family when the Holy Spirit prompts?

Are you willing to use your vacation money to take that missions trip instead?

Are you willing to open the doors of your home to welcome the person who needs a place to live?

Are you willing to forgive past hurts so God can use your pain to bring healing to others?

Are you able to allow God Himself to be your deepest connection and truest family?

God’s Highest Calling For You

The real question may be, are we holding loosely to everything God has given us? Or are we clinging to something that cannot last? What is God’s highest calling for you?

As we strive to hold tightly to God and loosely to this life, we would do well to remember that everything we have comes from God.

Our life itself.

Our measure of health.

Our family and friends.

Our opportunities for gaining skills or an education.

Our opportunities for a job and earning money.

Our ministry.

Our church.

Our home.

Our food.

Our time.

God is the source of every blessing we enjoy. Therefore, if we hold loosely to these blessings, in our hearts these people and things are free for God to use, change, add or remove according to His Master plan. When we hold loosely to this life and to this world, not only are the people and things we hold set free, but we are also set free to love God completely, for He is our best treasure! And then we are free to follow His best plan for our lives.

May We Cling to Christ

Though it is a temptation to hold onto this world with all our strength, our very souls are released when we let go of this life and reach for God instead.
2 Corinthians 4:18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

In the end, only what’s done for Christ will last. Everything else is fading away right before our eyes, for where we walk here, we walk among hazy shadowlands. Let us look again at Christ with clear eyes of faith and run toward Him with our hands free to reach and grasp His with all our strength and might!

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee. ~Quote by C.T. Studd

Additional Resources:

For a powerful, beautiful and personal story of how Godly convictions can lead to a place of humbleness and tender blessings from Him, please read Bettie G.’s post titled Endless Lack or Holy Fullness Part 2.

When Jesus Let Go of Heaven By Melissa McLaughlin

45 thoughts on “Holding Loosely”

    • Valerie, thank you for stopping by and sharing your heart. Truly, life is such a gift and you are so right, it is only for just this moment. Though God blesses us with many earthly gifts, they are only a glimpse. May we fix our eyes on heaven where Jesus awaits and our joy will be endless! Bless you!

  1. This is a perfect reminder just before Thanksgiving. Being grateful for what God has so kindly blessed us with, yet holding it loosely. I remember hearing once that if the idea of fasting from a particular thing in our life caused panic to rise up….that is an indicator that it may be an idol in our life (and we should most definitely consider a fast from that thing).

    • Oh, Susan, thank you for mentioning that. I had not made the connection to Thanksgiving gratitude and yet holding loosely those same blessings for which our hearts overflow. And your comment about fasting from particular things to see our heart response. Wow. That is telling. Thank you for your deep and thoughtful insights! May your heart be grateful for the blessings He has given, but ever grateful more for the Lord Himself!

  2. Whew…that’s a thought-provoking list of challenge questions for us! A few of the questions I could answer “Yes” to with ease, a few I hesitated before saying “Yes”, and a few I’m still wrestling with my answer. I have work to do on holding loosely!

    • Dear Jamie, as I read your post about idols, I couldn’t help but think that the Holy Spirit had put a similar message on both of our hearts. Just coming from a different angle. May we cling ever tighter to Jesus! Bless you!

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you! Believe me, this is not a lesson that comes easily to me. I remember hearing the phrase “You won’t know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” Very slowly I am learning the truth of this statement. In my heart I want Jesus to be my all in all, but I am learning to let go of everything else, so that He can be. Bless you!

  3. Wow! Such a powerful post. I could relate so much to it. When I was 18 God very clearly spoke to me about the calling He had for me. I learned the hard way the importance of holding things loosely when 4 years ago I lost almost everything that I was trying to build and achieve for years. God in His faithfulness has been restoring by life back. He allowed me to regain many things that I lost. But I know better now.

    • Dear Galina, I completely understand. I am still learning this lesson. Little by little, I am learning to give more of this life back to Him. May we remember and know in our innermost being that God Himself is our greatest blessing. Then as He restores what was lost, we will not allow let it overshadow His glory. Bless you!

  4. A while back God helped me understand the concept of holding things loosely when I lost someone very dear to me. I was angry, but he helped me to see that nothing in this life truly belongs to me but to him. And he does with all things and people that which he knows to be best. Thanks for sharing. This is a great post.

  5. Dear Melissa,
    Oh, it seems that God had us both share more thoughts again this week about those things that we think we lack, those things we think we need to hold onto so tightly! I am weeping also, as I read your words here. Truly, God is taking me deeper to show me what a precious TREASURE He is. There is none like Him. Oh may I open my heart ever more fully to Him. He makes sure that we know He is so near! Thank you for your open and caring heart Dear Friend! Blessings to you this Thanksgiving Week.

    • Dear Bettie,
      Yes, once again, the Holy Spirit led us to follow up the message of letting go. Though we each wrote from different perspectives, the message is similar, Jesus is our TREASURE. As you say, there is none like Him. May our hearts, minds and eyes be so captivated by His love and grace that all else grows dim. God bless you and keep you through this Thanksgiving week. May He show His tender care for you in each moment. I’m praying for you right now.

  6. In the end, only what’s done for Christ will last…so true! I love the sweet illustration of your mother’s necklace and I love the poem at the end of your post. What a wonderful reminder Melissa, to hold it all loosely. God can’t do a lot with a tight grip, but He can do remarkable things when we release our grip and give it all to Him. Love your message and what you do! Thank you!

    • Meghan, thank you for reading and offering your kind words of encouragement! I agree, God can do so much with a life and is yielded to Him, but this is not easy. Praying we can surrender more of ourselves to Him each day. God bless you!

  7. Hello Mellisa – I was enjoying and agreeing with everything in your blog and then you want and asked me some thought questions..

    Am I holding loosely to the things God has given me or do they have a hold on me? Am I able to let go of anything or anyone if God asks?

    My home – My job – A relationship – Money – My time – My hurts

    Those questions challenge me – I pray the answer is yes

    • Hi Bob,
      I appreciate you stopping by to read and share your thoughts. That passage of the Bible has the same effect on me, as well. It all sounds like a story about “someone else” until it gets to the end and Jesus’ statements are inescapable and deep. Lord, I pray with Bob, even now, that the blessings you have provided will not become more important to us than You, the Giver of all good gifts. Let us hold loosely to everything and everyone, for they all belong to You. In Jesus’ name and for His sake we pray, amen.

    • Thank you, Ginny, for reading and for your kind words. May God use each of us to lift our eyes to Him and grow our gratitude for Jesus. May the joy of our salvation shine brighter than the darkest days we have here. God bless you, my sister!

  8. It’s so interesting to think about this passage. I had a conversation with a friend about it recently. Can rich people get into heaven? Clearly the Bible supports the idea that wealth is not a sin. Wealth is a gift from God. Where many people fail is exactly where this young man did. We don’t submit our wealth to God’s purposes.
    I’ve done some of these things you’re asking us to consider. I’ve planted a church. I’ve left that church to move to another town. All to obey what I thought was God’s will for me and my family. I can attest to the truth of what you say. Holding my life loosely is the only way I get to keep any of it. The tighter I grip things the tighter the knot gets. What a perfect analogy!
    Thanks for the excellent post. Well written and beautiful.

    • God bless you, Chip! I appreciate your feedback and personal experience with this. Your loose grip on the things of this world has allowed God to use you more and great will be your reward in heaven. The beauty is as we hold loosely to our blessings in this life, we find Christ to be more beautiful even now. May God continue to bless you, your family and your ministry. Most of all, I pray your heart stays ready to do His will!

  9. This is a great reminder to hold all things loosely. That is something we need to remember daily. All blessings come from God and its by His will and for His will that we have those blessings. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Dear Melissa!

    Your mother’s necklace is beautiful.

    You write about some difficult questions here, I like that.

    This sentence stayed with me after reading your blog post “God is the source of every blessing we enjoy. ”

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

  11. Melissa, this is a beautifully expressed post full of challenging life lessons. And these are piercing questions which have no swift or easy answer. God requires different things from each one of us. A while back I heard Him whisper that I needed to hold lightly to the things of this world and hold tightly to the things of God. Your timely words have reinforced the message I received and given me further pause for thought as well.
    Bless you for being brave enough to ask the hard questions and seek to remain faithful to the messages God gives you. They speak to hearts who need to hear them. By the way, on a side note, I often get quite frustrated and impatient trying to untangle my gnarled necklaces, so I hand them over to my ever-patient husband, who is usually reliably able to return them to me in a wearable state! Our better halves come in handy, don’t they? What we lack they tend to have. Iron sharpening iron and all that. Blessings on your week, my friend. x

    • Dear Joy, thank you for reading this second post on that passage of scripture where Jesus encountered the rich young ruler. You are right, God requires different things from each of us and so we must draw close to Him to hear His highest calling for us. I praise God if this message is helpful or affirming! As for your necklace untangling husband, that is wonderful news! Some people do seem to have a special touch. Yes, our spouses are a great blessing, even in the little things! God bless you! xo

    • Dear Tamika, thank you taking a moment to read and pause to share your thoughts. I agree, it is so easy to love the gifts more than the Giver of all gifts. I try to remind myself these gifts are but a tiny glimpse of Him. God bless you!

  12. I find I can let go of one thing only to later find something else in my grasp. God help me to put your kingdom above all else. Forgive me, Lord, for i am sinful.

    • Tom, you really captured the heart of our struggle to follow hard after Jesus. Forgive us, oh Lord. How we need your Spirit to help us be the Christians we desire to be. For your honor, for your name’s sake, for we love you, Jesus.


Leave a Comment