In his book Release of the Spirit, Watchman Nee writes about that thing in hand. It’s the thing (or things) we hold onto so tightly that it hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it keeps us from living and loving like Jesus.
This thing in hand can be anything: A relationship, a possession, a job or position, a habit, a dream or desire, an unmet need or even an emotion. Often the thing takes up an imbalanced amount of our time, talent, treasures and thoughts. It can even become an idol we put before God himself. Sometimes, in order for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, God allows us to be broken so that we will release this thing in hand or learn to hold on loosely.
Henri Nouwen writes of holding loosely onto life (especially people).The following is taken from his book Turn My Mourning into Dancing:
Perhaps our need to hold life loosely is no more evident than in our daily relationships. Loving someone means allowing the other person to respond in ways you have no control. Every time you engage yourself in an intimate, loving way with someone else you become at least partly subject to the exhilaration of hearing another person’s yes or the disappointment in his or her no. The more people you love, the more pain you may experience. For the great mystery of love is that while it can be received, it can also be rejected. Every time you love you enter into the risk of love…
Look at the story of Jesus in the last chapters of his life… Our pain and the suffering of the Lord are intimately connected. When we mourn, we die to something that gives us a sense of who we are. In this sense suffering always has much to do with the spiritual life. We surrender our striving denial of our limitations. We release our hold on a piece of our identity as a spouse, a parent, as a member of church, as a resident of a community…And so we admit, not without many tears, that we sometimes must let go of what we hold very dear.
I’m not good at holding on loosely to this life. I’m quick to stake my claim on what I want and what I think God ought to do in my life and in the lives of those I love. More often than not it seems like God has to pry things out of my hands. I have so far to go in my faith journey. There are many things in hand that I need to hold loosely or just plain let go.
How about you…what’s the thing in your hand?