Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Teaching: Hold or Held?

I like to hold on tightly to things.

Can you relate?

I like to control my commitments, make sure that the people I care about are safe, insure that I am just as vulnerable as I need to be to make people feel that I am vulnerable while still making sure to protect myself. When I go on a trip I have a navigation system in the rental car, the Waze app fired up on my cell phone, and - if all else fails - a Mapquest print-out on the passenger seat. I don't need a lot of friends but I would sooner lose a finger than a friend I have invested decades in.

I like to know where I am going to be every moment for the next two weeks. Google Calendar is not quite holy writ, but close.

I actually say around our house "a place for everything and everything in its place".

Holding on to things has its benefits.

You generally know where the lemon zester you use once every eighteen months is residing at this moment.

But it can be an exhausting way to live. My fellow holder-on-ers know what I mean.

We're not apt to enjoy spontaneity, surprises, changes in plans, or last minute invitations. And those things can be really wonderful and fun.

Speaking of fun, no one ever calls us the life of the party! We come through in the clutch, but we're not good partiers. We're great in a crisis, but kind of a drag when our friends want to take a last minute road trip.

The real issue is that when it comes to our relationship with God, holding on and being in control can be downright deadly.

Which is probably why God seems very concerned in the Bible with reminding us that he is holding on to us, even in our trying to hold on to everything else.

That's the Big Idea: It's better to be held than to hold on.

"Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go" - Jesus (John 6:37)

There's a wealth of good stuff there, fellow holders-on.

First, Jesus regards you as a gift. Stunning, if you think about it.

You're not a bother, an obligation, a candidate for approval, a project.

No, you are a gift. One he values and treasures.

One he wants to hold on to.

And hold on he does.

He went through betrayal, poverty, deprivation, misunderstanding, arrest, torture, a false trial, and execution - all to hold on to you.

You're worth holding on to.

And once he has you he doesn't let go.

Through your failings and slips and shortcomings, in spite of your indifference and callousness and poor choices..he just keeps holding on.

So why do we try to hold on so hard?

You're walking on a pier at the beach with your dad. Your ice cream cone is melted down to a nub in the hot sun. He tries to pry its sticky remnants from your sticky, clutching fingers. But you won't let go.

That ice cream cone is so valuable. So precious. You can't lose it. So you hold on tight and kick and scream and protest and look for an opening to get away from your father who only wants to take your ice cream and hurt you because he hates you and...

What he wants to do is through the nub of what used to be an ice cream cone away, toss it in the trash, clean your grubby hands, and walk you to the end of the pier. To the ice cream shop at the end of the pier.

And put into your hands a new, frozen waffle cone of not-yet-dripping cookies and cream goodness.

He takes away the stuff you don't need, holds your hand gently in his (even if you're not the hand-holding type, somehow when you get it you don't mind his hand) and leads you to the much better stuff you wanted all along, even if you didn't know it.

What are you holding onto that you really can let go?

Where can you dare to allow yourself to be held, and led, and loved?

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