COLUMN: What should we really hold on to?

Published 7:30 am Sunday, November 26, 2023

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There’s nothing quite so precious as a newborn baby. They all have something in common. They come into this world naked, helpless, and dependent on their mother and father for everything.

A baby is born possessing nothing. They arrive empty-handed with their tightly clenched fists. When prized open, they will grip a person’s finger or a rattle. One of the first skills they learn as infants is to hold on to their bottle or a blanket or toy, objects that are often a source of security for them.

As we grow older, our hands become more useful for holding on to things. Without them, we couldn’t do daily activities like eating, dressing, driving, and writing.

Throughout our lives, our hands hold on to our prized possessions. We find ourselves clinging to cars, houses, and jobs. Many people go through life searching for something to hold on to for security. They think making money hand over fist brings material security. I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “He who has the most toys wins.”

Jesus said during His ministry on earth, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NKJ)

Missionary Jim Elliot, who was martyred in the jungles of Ecuador, once made the statement, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” Once again, this year we’ve seen how possessions can be gone in a matter of minutes because of destructive hurricanes and tornadoes.

Our most precious possessions are our children and family. We want to hold on to them as long as we can. It’s hard to let them go when they leave home to start their own lives or when our elderly loved ones near the end of their lives. No matter how tightly we cling to life, death eventually comes to each of us.

Someone has said, “You can’t take it with you.” Or as one minister humorously observed, “You don’t see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” He’s right about material things. At life’s end, our hands will be empty, just as they were when we were born.

Jesus instructed us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19 NKJ).

Anne Graham Lotz writes, “I wonder what treasures we will have in heaven as evidence of our work and witness on earth – if any? While it is said we can take nothing with us to heaven – we can! We can take somebody else!”

We all have something in common. There’s an eternal soul in every human being, the part of us that communicates with God. We can hold to God’s unchanging hand, so we won’t go into eternity empty-handed.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”