Pry Those Clinging Fingers
By Peter Lundell
I moved my mother to a new, downsized apartment. Like most of us, her money is tight. At times the process involved careful sorting and packing; other times demanded chucking things in boxes or in the trash. At the end of the move, the walls were bare and wounded with nail holes and plastic drywall anchors; the carpet lay lined and pocked with impressions of once-arranged furniture; and the windows stood stark and vacant against the sunlight. The furniture and decorations that once made it home were gone, leaving only an empty shell.
Throughout our lives we may go through some phases with great care and others with wild abandon. And at each phase of life, we will leave the previous one behind—like a place that was once home but is now gone, like an empty apartment.
At death we may leave behind money and furniture, but the life we lived—the space we took up on this earth, the "us" that people knew—will be gone, empty as a moved-out-house.
No matter how sentimental, or wounded, we may be about the past, we must leave it as we enter a new phase of life. A wise person will cling to nothing, and live according to what's ahead. In a way we all know this, and my talking about it is clicheish. But humans have an innate tendency to cling. We fill our closets and garages with stuff we’ll never use again. We hold on to nostalgic versions of memories and edit out the unhappy parts. We want life to keep going the way we like it.
But we can’t do that forever.
Jesus tells a parable of a guy who was a lot more similar to many of us than we’d like to admit. The story goes like this:
“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV).
If we cling to our stuff, we’ll only get into trouble—both in this life and the afterlife.
Not clinging takes unending attention. None of these come easily: not clinging to old toys and the piles of stuff that too often defined who we were; not clinging to comfort zones, hurt emotions, and the way things used to be.
Like a rented apartment, our lives may seem like our own, but ultimately they are not. We live and breathe in the hands of God, who created us. When our life's lease is up, all we leave behind will be emptied of us.
The Apostle Paul similarly calls believers to let go of our stuff. The more we let go of here, the more we can expect to receive in the place God has prepared. Here is the amazing promise:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV).
“Lord, pry my fingers off every object or feeling that you want me to let go. I chose to live untethered and free. Lead me by your Spirit…”
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With a pastor’s heart, Peter Lundell connects people and their life issues to a real God so they can live well in the face of eternal realities. With a quarter century of missionary, pastoral, and teaching experience, he brings new perspectives to interacting with God that most people overlook. He holds an M.Div. and D.Miss. from Fuller Theological Seminary and resides in Southern California. He authors books on Christian spirituality. Visit him at www.PeterLundell.com.
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