By Melissa McLaughlin
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 and the 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 to in this life – possessions, positions, places, relationships, homes, jobs and more.
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 treasury.
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 found 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 if we should 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. We know that 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 announcing and sharing the good news of Jesus. Though their missionary journeys took them far and wide, in each place they visited, there were many new believers who remained in their homes leading, ministering to 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:
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 is in need of 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?
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.
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.
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 4:18 – So 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
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.