Sometimes, I wonder, if at least a little of the trouble we encounter in our dust-and-clay life here on earth is due to trying to hold on to things that are supposed to be released.
My family has recently acquired some beautiful, snugly fur-babies in the form of two female guinea pigs that we keep some of the time inside a generous-sized cage in our lounge room. The last few weeks have been devoted to trying to establish the trust of these little ones; it is a patient task and one that requires a little self-denial if nothing else: trying to handle them when they do not want to be handled is futile. They duck and run and attempt to hide, and even if they are pacified a little, their poor small hearts pound against the palm of your hand.
I don’t want our guinea pigs to stay in our arms out of fear; I want them to feel safe there.
The more I hold them against their will, the less likely they are to trust my hands.
And so to bring them close, I need patience.
I need to meet them on their terms and gently allow their resistance to turn to trust. This is the nature of relationship, isn’t it? But what if they never want to be held? Is it possible that they may never grow to love and trust us? Neither guinea pigs are babies; both have had lives before us and may have established patterns and relationships with humans that we know nothing of. Can persistence win their hearts? I don’t know. I’m no guinea-pig whisperer and my natural instinct assumes that, as with all living things, the will belongs to the creature alone.
We can do our best but sometimes that isn’t enough to shift a heart.
That power lies with God alone.
I’m sure that we could save ourselves so much grief in life by recognising what is meant to be held and what is meant to be released; what can be achieved by the work of our own hands and those outcomes that belong to God alone. It seems to me that the healthiest and most free way to live is to be a good steward of what comes our way and to recognise the purpose within it. Maybe the gift is not there to be held, but to teach us to let go.
The Father who Provides
As the Israelites were given only enough manna for each day, we see that the purpose in the bread-from-heaven was not only to strengthen their bones but to teach them the faithfulness of Abba. As those who tried to gather what was made to be released found that it turned to rot and worms by daybreak, we too find only lack when we try to control what is not ours to control.
As I sit at the edge of our guinea pig cage with a handful of dandelion stalks, the bravest of our two babies comes to take them from my hand. She knows to receive the good gifts from my hand. The other must be picked up and held for a little while before she will eat. The first day that she lived with us she refused to eat at all if she was in our hands, so I see improvement. I see the slow, steady work of consistent love and respect beginning to pay off.
I look back on my life so far and I see the ever-steadfastness of Abba; who faithfully pursued me with not only dandelion seeds but with the dry, steady bore of manna; not just with tender, warm touch but with firm hands that moved me when I did not wish to be moved and led me to places that I did not wish to go. He has been not only in my opportunities but also in my closed doors; in wildnernesses, deserts and places walled up with thorns.
I wonder if the measure of a life-well lived is one that has learned the art of trust.
Of course I cannot control all of the daily mishaps that occur in the life of our guinea pigs. The television turned too loud that startles their skittish senses; the impatient, grappling hands of my seven year old son; the slam of the cage lid as the wind catches it….I can only continue to wait and hope that our love will prove to be a steady and secure habitation for our new pets. And so, the journey of relationship has begun.
Have you noticed that the seasons live freely, releasing what needs to be released and nurturing what needs to be held? Have you ever seen the fingers of a tree hold on to leaves past Winter? Have you seen good earth eject a seed from it’s bowels before it’s time? The earth knows what to release and what to hold on to. The earth knows that nothing really belongs to it; it is all simply a poem set in motion by a Master Storyteller; the one who possesses the ability to turn even brokenness into something of great worth; a seed husk must crack to yield new life. The caterpillar must abide in the dark place for some time before it can fly to it’s destiny above.
The rhythms of the earth tell the faithfulness of the Creator.
The beauty of letting go.
'What gain has the worker from his toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot
find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.'