Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hold Life Loosely

By:  P. Lundell

Twice in four days an LA County Sheriff's helicopter evacuated people from ambulances right by my house, once in the street and once in the park. Traffic stopped. People stared. The sky thudded with the beat of the helicopter rotors.

Then these people who had gotten up in the morning just as I did, eaten their breakfast, and gone off to do what they normally do, got hit. One by a car, the other by a heart attack.

I live in a suburb that's so peaceful, I sometimes think I'll go comatose. People move here and pay too much for their houses in order to avoid street drama and send their kids to good schools. And they typically prohibit anything they don't like—or they wish they could. Don't we all?

But drama ignores boundaries. Every one of us lives moment-by-moment, never able to say with certainty that we'll be free from affliction or even live another day. We all know people, young and old, who have died unexpectedly. Many of us have lived through hardships and even tragedies. And we all have bad days.

No amount of health insurance, life insurance, or stock portfolios can protect us from a serious illness, car accident, or act of violence. Nothing can ensure we won't be hauled off in a helicopter—followed by the sting of a hefty bill. Or a body bag followed by a hefty casket.

Seems the only smart thing to do is to stop clinging to what we ultimately can't hold anyway. Hold life loosely. And when we do, it sets well in God's hands. Easy to say. Doing it demands humility and faith—hard ingredients if we like having our own way.

All that "die to yourself" and "take up your cross" talk in the New Testament fits in about here. Jesus said it succinctly in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." A cross is not a burden; it's an instrument of death. Later he slaps us with, "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight" (16:15). God doesn't care about our trophies anyway.

It's no wonder God lets us be miserable at times, or for some of us it's much of the time. Seems that God wants our attention.

I find the more attention we give God, the less concern we have about what we have, what we accomplish, or how we try to protect ourselves. The only thing left of great value is eternal.

Maybe that's God's general idea. And it will forever fly in the face of conventional wisdom. The materialistic world we live in has little place for the eternal. But the eternal has little place for the materialistic world. One of them is temporary; the other will last forever.

Will you hold one loosely and reach for the other?

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:13-14, NIV).

"Lord, the world deceives with false promises of security and significance. Show me how fragile my life is, how things can be taken from me, and how the best thing I can do with myself and what I have is to put it all in your hands…."

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