A few days ago, I was at Disneyland with my family. I was sitting at a curb, waiting for some of them to join us, when my youngest niece climbed onto my back. The only natural thing for a fun-loving aunt to do seemed to be to flip her over my shoulder. She loved it, but as we did so, my earrings were caught in the action and proceeded to pop out of my ear. One of my earrings was a piece of costume jewelry that I have had for a long time but contains little intrinsic value. I found it immediately. The other earring was one-half of my only pair of genuine diamond earrings and were from my dad. Although the monetary value was not hugely significant (they aren’t that big), the sentimental attachment was huge. It popped out of my ear and was lost in the glistening blacktop of Main Street.
As we searched for the earring, the fact that it was a special present from my dad was at the forefront of my mind. I attempted to stay calm by reminding myself that even if we didn’t find it, it was just a symbol of the relationship that I had with him. Losing the earring didn’t mean that I had lost the relationship. Regardless of whether I had that particular reminder, the generosity and love my dad had shown me had not changed.
In case you are tempted to go to Main Street looking for the lost earring, we did find it (and God graciously didn’t allow us to look too long before we did.) However, the lesson taught in those moments of search was an important one. Remembering and honoring my dad is not synonymous with holding on to the gifts that he has given me. My love for him is not equated with the representations of his generosity. My heart’s fondness for my father is tied up in the relationship that we have, not in the expressions of it.
The same is true in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. As I wrote about previously, being a Christian means letting go of what is ours in order to cling to Him. However, what does this actually mean – to cling to God? It means when we are experiencing His generosity and when we are not, our souls find satisfaction in Him. Our relationship is not dependent on whether we are enjoying the expressions of His goodness, whether all is at it “should” be (in our estimation), or whether the bounty of His gifts are ours in abundance. Clinging to God doesn’t mean holding on to the good things that He has given us, it means loving and honoring Him. Even if all those things are taken away, our commitment to Him does not wane.
It’s tempting to replace holding on to God with holding on to the good things He has given us. However, if we, like the Psalmist, want to be able to say that our soul clings to Him than He, and not His gifts, must sustain us. Our satisfaction and our confidence must be found in Him alone.