“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”- Corrie Ten Boom
At the beginning of last year, if Marie Kondo came into my home and asked me to declutter and donate most of my belongings, I would have told you I wouldn’t have minded. I would have imagined myself cheerfully ushering her in and helping her haul away my things. I would have told you it was just “stuff”. Then, I would have followed up with a comment about how I never thought of myself as the type to struggle with holding material possessions too closely or gripping onto people and things for my security. I like to think Marie Kondo would have high- fived me and offered me an apprenticeship with her.
So, if you would have told me the greatest lesson I learned in 2018 was, “hold things loosely”, I would have been confused.
Let me take you back to the summer of 2018. I received a call that my Mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor and a rare form of cancer. I remember instantly saying to the Lord, “this is my Mom, you can’t take her!”. I felt entitled to have her here on earth and for her to be healthy. I could sense my grip of control and desire to fix the situation was strengthening. I could feel my hands tighten as I desperately held onto my Mom and begged God to make things right.
This was the beginning of a marathon of events over the next few months that caused me to question where my security was found and if Jesus was really “enough”. I found myself wrestling with words that I never thought I’d struggle with – “that’s mine”, “that’s unfair, and “give it back”, seemed to top my vocabulary.
In a few short months, my fists began to tighten, stronger and stronger, as I dealt with the mess of an identity theft, thieves that drained my bank account, a stolen car, an unexpected move, the loss of my dearly loved Uncle, the disbelief I felt when the inheritance he left me was stolen, and a whole list of other events, which left me wondering what was next in my life to be stolen, broken, or lost. I truly started to wonder if I was a modern-day version of Job.
Things and people in my life started to feel like sand, sifting through my fingers. Gripping them tight, feverishly trying to hold onto it all. As much as I wanted to escape the injustice and grief that surrounded me, I was not immune to it and I could not control the outcome. No matter how hard I clenched my fists and held on for dear life, I couldn’t make the things I’d lost reappear.
Fast-forward to the Fall of 2018, I was sitting on the long plane ride home from my Uncle’s funeral. I was emotionally spent from everything the last few days, weeks, and months had brought. I flipped open my bible and read the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19. I have read this
verse more times than I could count, but this time I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my situation. It was as if Jesus was sitting across from me, looking me in the eyes, saying:
“Don’t keep hoarding for yourselves earthly treasures that can be stolen by thieves. Material wealth eventually rusts, decays, and loses its value. Instead, stockpile heavenly treasures for yourselves that cannot be stolen and will never rust, decay, or lose their value. For your heart will always pursue what you value as your treasure.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (TPT)
Jesus, thousands of years ago, speaking to the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount, was already reminding us to be aware that things (a car, cash, an inheritance, clothes, our earthly bodies…fill in the blank) are not meant to provide us lasting value. In this passage, Jesus speaks directly to the posture of our hearts and calls us to find freedom from the anxiety of holding tightly to the things of this world.
Can I be honest? Reading this passage was a deep exhale for my soul. I didn’t realize how exhausted I had become from trying to reclaim and chase after the things of this world. I had been so overcome by the amount of things that were being taken from me, that the reminder of the eternal security found in things outside of this earth, was like soothing balm to my anxious heart.
Hear me out, people should be held accountable for their actions; stealing is wrong, and God delights in justice. Having possessions is not a sin. The problem we face is when these things begin to take the highest priority in our heart, when our hope becomes built on them, and when we look to them for lasting security. Jesus teaches us that there is a better way, a freer way to live our lives. He invites us into the security and peace that comes with finding our greatest treasure in eternal things, which will never be stolen or destroyed.
I became so desperate during this season for the truth in Matthew 6 to sink into my heart. I changed the wallpaper on my phone to a screenshot of this passage, I read it multiple times a day, sometimes twenty or thirty times a day. I began asking God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to help me loosen the tense grip I had on these earthly things that I felt entitled to. I asked Him to help me shift my gaze from the things of this earth and to lock eyes with Him. I asked Him to forgive me for putting so much stock in these things and I asked him to help me forgive those who had wronged me along the way.
There have even been moments recently where I have had to physically look down at my hands, wiggle my fingers, and then slowly open and close my hands. I have had to pause in certain moments and use this as a physical representation as a reminder of the spiritual posture I am learning to carry. Open hands, holding things loosely. Letting go of the grip of fleeting earthly things, and grabbing ahold of lasting eternal treasures.
I encourage you today to read the words in Matthew 6: 19-21. Take a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten some areas of your heart where you might need to loosen your grip on earthly things.
Am I finding security in the amount of money in my bank account?
Am I finding a false sense of confidence in a relationship, job, or position?
Have I put too much trust in the things of this world to provide me stability and security?
Are there things in my life that, if they disappeared tomorrow, so too would my hope?
Maybe you need to physically open and close your hands today and ask the Lord to help you loosen your grip on the things of the world and take hold of the lasting, eternal treasures found in Christ.
You are not alone in this journey! I pray you and I would continue to find the overflowing peace that comes from resting in the eternal hope we have in Christ.
Steph Vandermolen is a member of the Live Original Team. She loves watching hockey, drinking coffee on chilly days, and knows too many random facts about Iceland.
Follow Steph on Instagram @iceland.obsessed