In early 2020, my son had his next year all planned out… as a youth ministry student with just one year of his undergraduate work to go, plans were coming together for his fall internship. In addition, he had a wonderful once-in-a lifetime opportunity to work in our denominations’ national office with the national director of youth ministry for the summer, on a brand new ministry group. He was excited about all of it. He brought his two best friends and his girlfriend home for spring break, just as the nation began to erupt in this pandemic we call Covid… and his world stopped. Suddenly his plans weren’t so sure… they weren’t sure if they’d return to campus after spring break. Then they weren’t sure if the summer program would happen… and then it was cancelled… and then he wasn’t sure he’d have housing for his fall internship….
Sensing some of his anxiety as he has navigated these uncertain waters along with the rest of us… we’ve had several discussions about the uncertainty of life…. the faith that it requires to know that God has a plan. I have shared with him various lessons I’ve learned along my journey of life and the way In which the tough lessons were the ones that strengthened my faith.
Last week, during another discussion about uncertainty, I said to him, “Hold on loosely… to your plans, to your belongings… hold on loosely”
As I said, “Hold on loosely”, my mom teared up. For any who know my mom, it’s very unusual to see her tear up… she just doesn’t. She shared with us that when she and my dad built their home, they invited their pastor over to bless the home. Their pastor came over and picked my brother, who was then a toddler, up in his arms and said to my mother, “Hold on loosely to this little boy.”
David, my brother, died when he was three…. couldn’t have been you much after that conversation.
Who could have known that, over 50 years later I would use the exact same words to tell my son to hold loosely to the things of this world.
Our home is not this world. Our home is our Heavenly Palace. We are truly just passing through on our way to eternity. We sometimes get wrapped up in how things need to be on earth… in our country, in our states, in our municipalities, and in our homes… it’s not that we shouldn’t care about it, but we should hold loosely… to our belongings, to our friends, to those we care deeply about… hold loosely..: you never know when they will be gone…
It’s easier said than done, I realize… I don’t say it from the perspective of having mastered how to do it… but I do try to remind myself, when my anger, or sadness, or anxiety begins to rise that a lot of what we get ourselves worked up about will not matter on the other side of eternity.
Hold on loosely, my friends… but don’t let go.