Have you heard someone say, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite”? According to one theory, the expression comes from frontier times when mattresses were supported by ropes or strings that were pulled tight to make the bed comfortable.
There’s another way to “sleep tight,” though, and it’s not good. Do you ever go to bed with your mind and emotions wound so tight you find it hard to relax and drift off to sleep? In a time of tight budgets, frayed nerves, tension headaches, and bitter political arguments, peace seems in short supply. Even jeans are tight these days. Maybe we need to relax our grip on things we clutch too tightly.
Personal Time. When my son-in-law experienced an unexpected health crisis a few months ago, my family’s schedule suddenly became very flexible because our concern for him took precedence. I found myself approaching each day with an open hand, ready to change plans at a moment’s notice if I needed to spend time with my grandkids or at the hospital. When friends or coworkers sought time with me, I said, “OK, we can set a time to get together, but let’s put an asterisk next to the appointment in case our plans change.” I had to loosen my grip on my personal schedule and live one day at a time, which is how God wants us to live anyway. The Bible cautions, “You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).
Possessions. Have you heard the African legend about how to catch a baboon? Find a jar that’s wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. Fasten the jar to a tree, then put food in the jar. The baboon will reach in and grab the food, getting its hand stuck in the jar. The baboon could easily free itself by releasing its grip, but it stubbornly clutches the bait, refusing to open its hand even at the risk of being captured. Do we need to hold our belongings more loosely? Do we cling so tightly to our houses, cars, and bank accounts that we’re no longer free? How many more missionaries could be sent out—and how many additional ways could we care for those in need—if God’s people would loosen our grip on earthly riches and give with unbridled generosity?
People. Here’s a harder question. Might the Lord be asking us to hold our loved ones more loosely? When the Holy Spirit called the believers in Antioch to launch a new mission work, they decided to send their finest leaders. It couldn’t have been easy to let go of encouraging teachers like Barnabas and Saul. Did anyone object and say, “Wait, let’s keep our best leaders here in Antioch”? Like military families that support their sons and daughters who enlist in the armed forces, Christian families sacrifice by sending loved ones to prepare for ministry, plant new churches, and serve on faraway mission fields. Sometimes giving money is easier than saying goodbye to people we love.
Does the way we invest our time, money, and workers demonstrate that Christ’s mission holds top priority in our lives? If God asks us to release these things, are we willing to let them go?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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