Letting go of lesser things
A toddler has a penny clenched in his chubby little fist. Kneeling down to his level is a well-dressed gentleman, holding a cheque for a million pounds, made out in the child’s name. It’s clear to see the child is not interested, much happier with the small coin, oblivious to the great riches that are being offered to him. He has no intention of letting go of his little treasure for anything.
As adults, our treasures may be more valuable than a penny, but our struggles to let go are no easier. In fact, sometimes it is what we most value that is the very thing God is asking us to let go. Take Abraham, for example. In Genesis 22, God tells him to take his son Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him for a burnt offering. If you’re at all familiar with the story, you’ll know how precious Isaac was to Abraham. He was a long-awaited son, the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, the one through whom God would make of Abraham a great nation. For Abraham to offer up his greatest treasure was going to be costly. It was going to hurt, more than we can imagine.
And yet we read that he rose up. Early. If that were me, I think I might have procrastinated, put off the inevitable. But Abraham didn’t delay in his obedience to God. Before long, they were on their way. Did you ever notice that, after the initial instruction, we don’t read of God repeating his request? It seems as if Abraham received no reassurance that he’d heard correctly. He accepted the message and obeyed immediately. He was willing to open his hand and release that precious gift.
Imagine if Abraham had refused. What if he had reasoned that there was no way that God would give him something and then ask him to release it? That if he carried out this request, the promise of the great nation would never come to pass? Abraham might have lived out the rest of his life with his dear Isaac by his side. But he would have missed out! Look at verses sixteen and seventeen. God tells Abraham that because he obeyed His voice, in blessing he would be blessed, in multiplying he would be multiplied, and, best of all, that all nationsof the earth would be blessed, because he obeyed God’s voice!
Sometimes we are asked to let go of something we are clinging to. In themselves, these things may be good – hopes and dreams, possessions, family, or health – but God has something better for us. Sometimes we aren’t given a choice – eight years ago this week one of my dearest friends was taken to heaven. And yet, we never release something to God without Him giving us greater blessings in return. Very often, in fact, most of the time, these blessings are not physical blessings. God may be teaching us valuable lessons about Himself, showing us His character and teaching us lessons for the future. These difficult experiences can lead to a strengthening of our confidence in God, and to greater joy in Him. One thing we can be sure of – if God removes or asks us to give up something that we deem of great importance, we can be certain that He will only give us the very best in return.
No good will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.Psalm 84:11
The truth of God’s blessings coming through situations we’d rather not face is the theme of a contemporary Christian song called Blessings. One line in particular talks about God hearing each spoken need, yet loving us ‘way too much to give us lesser things.’
We might think that, as is the situation for the writer of Blessings, to have a husband with long-term memory issues and other complications is a lesser thing. Or suddenly losing a close friend at only twenty-seven years old. Letting hopes and dreams die. Giving up time or a lucrative career to care for children. A chronic illness. Financial difficulties. You can fill in the blank for your own situation. But if God has asked you to give up something, you can be totally sure that what He has for you is the best! Like the child who is clinging to a penny when someone is holding a cheque for a million pounds, the blessings God has in store for us are immeasurably wonderful in comparison to that treasure we are holding so tightly. So as we bravely uncoil our fingers and let go of the lesser things, we can be sure that God will fill our open hands with His great treasures.
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