There was a children’s story in a lesson once, about a monkey trap used in the jungles; just a basket with a narrow neck, but when filled with monkey goodies it became a snare for the creature, all because of how much he wanted. He shoved his skinny little paw down in there to get the treasures and then held on tight, refusing to let go, even though his fist was too large to fit back through the opening….and there he would sit, trapped by greed, longing to get loose but needing to hang on for fear of losing it. We understand his dilemma completely. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
I’ve been thinking though, about the paradox that when we hold on tight to keep from losing the things we love, we lose the ability to receive other things…because hands have to be wide open to get any good thing. And the only way to get all of what God has for you is to come to Him with heart and hands unclenched, letting go all that you treasure. He said it would be contradictory and unmistakable: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:25 NLT)
It is human nature to hold onto what we love, but what we don’t always see is how it holds us fast, right where we are, and if we are too afraid to let go we can be stuck in that same place for a lifetime, paralyzed by desire and fear, and maybe even (underneath it all) longing to get loose .
Sometimes we are as short-sighted as the monkey. There is an abundance of goodness, and an endless supply for hungry hearts in the One who is calling us to a wide open place of freedom, if we unwrap those fingers, one by one, and let go. And wouldn’t I rather have treasures that last forever, compared to any earthly thing that will pass away in the end anyway? I think I am slowly coming to realize that. I might need help though, letting go of some things, Lord. And when it feels like losing everything, please be gentle with me, and patient.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4
“Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth, For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice, And he who suffers most has most to give.” Lillias Trotter, A Blossom in the Desert