I don’t like throwing things away. I’m not a hoarder, but I’m not Mr. Clean either. And although I’m not as bad as my father-in-law (oh, the stories I could tell), but I’m pretty bad, as my wife can attest.
I don’t like deleting old emails. I feel like I’m letting something go, and I can’t get it back! Or pictures…oh the pictures…Amanda can’t stand it when I take pictures! 10 of every shot of the kids. It’s like looking at one of those old flip books when you roll through them!
When I do (or is it “did?”) woodworking, I’ll hold on to some of the tiniest scraps. “Hey, you never know when I might need that!” I tell Amanda, but eventually, I throw most of them away, because that need never arises.
Judging by the amount of publicity that hoarding gets, and with the incredible amount of storage units that are popping up all over the place, I’m not alone in this. We don’t like letting go of things. For many, it’s literally a compulsion to hold onto something. Better to pay $100 a month to store it (whoever came up with that idea was a genius).
And as true as this is for our physical lives, I think it’s even more so for our spiritual lives. We have a tendency to try and hold onto the old life, the “old man” as it were, to keep that “security”, false as it may be, the tangible, the seen.
Israel had the same problem. In Deuteronomy, Moses warned them over and over about not falling into the idol worship that permeated the promised land. They were told “take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them (false gods), after they are destroyed from before you” (Deut. 12:30).
Israel always struggled (as do we) with trading the seen for the unseen. Remember, at Mt. Sinai, when Moses was up on the mountain, hidden in the smoke and speaking with God Himself, the people talked Aaron into making them a golden calf, a seen thing to take the place of the Unseen. We, like them, struggle with giving up the seen for the unseen, don’t we?
In Deuteronomy 13:17, after describing how the people were to destroy any idol-worshipping town among them, Moses told the people that “none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand.” They weren’t to hold onto them at all.
So my question for you, and me, today is: what are we holding onto? What are we refusing to let go of from our old lives, our past? Or perhaps this is not something old to you. Perhaps you’ve seen “the gods of this land” and are being tempted to worship them, to cling to them. Can we not see that the things in our hands are lies (Isaiah 44)?
What do you need to let go of? What remains in your hand?