19When was the last time you gave thanks for something you lost?

Forty years ago, Southern rockers 38 Special penned and recorded a song which claimed the charts as it encouraged us to “Hold On Loosely” lest we lose control. While I wouldn’t suggest the entirety of the song is good relationship advice I’ll admit that learning to loosen our grip may not be that bad an idea.

We often have a tendency toward placing too much trust or value in the things around us. That could be money, the job or promotion we’re clamoring for, or a relationship.
These are all things that we desire; things which become objects of our affection.

The danger to our wellbeing is when these things — or a multitude of others— become objects of our obsession. More profitable than the advice from that 80’s radio hit is something we can read in the New Testament book of James.

In the first chapter, we’re invited to see that “…every good and perfect gift comes from above.” (v.17) The writer, believed to be the half-brother of Jesus, opens the book (or letter) asking us to “count it all joy whenever we face various trials.” (v.2) The people knew what James was talking about.

People in the early Christian church underwent both persecution and ostracizing when they proclaimed their belief Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the son of God.

Things they had worked for — their homes and businesses — were stripped away as they found themselves on the outside of the Jewish culture looking in.

Lifelong friends turned their backs on them, many were forced to ply a new trade as longtime customers refused to have anything to do with them (let alone do business with them), and they found themselves exiled — by choice or by force.

The Messiah was the very thing they prayed for, yet when He arrived, to follow Him was to let go of everything they knew and valued.

Sometimes we must let go of things, too. They are often the very things that keep us from something better. Jesus tried to explain this as a wealthy young business leader approached Him asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. He had observed all that was moral, built a profitable business, and seemingly had it all. Jesus told him to “…sell it all, give to the poor, then come follow Him.” (Matthew 19:16-21) Unwilling to let go of the good for the great, the young man went away sad.

And so it is with us. Be careful not to hold too tightly to the things that are more like anchors than oars.

We may find ourselves sinking, ever so slowly, never loosening our grip on the things we once longed for, but which may now be the only thing standing between us and the greatest gift we could ever imagine.

Let go, and thank God for the gifts He gave you, and the even better gifts He’s offering you now.

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