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Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Christians living in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. They were active participants in the Dutch underground and provided shelter for Jews seeking safety. On February 28, 1944, they were betrayed, and the Gestapo arrested her and several members of her family. The family was separated, and Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. In this Nazi camp, the sisters ministered and shared the Gospel with the other prisoners. Betsie died in the camp, and because of a clerical fluke, Corrie was released. Corrie wrote several books about her traumatic experiences including the moving best-selling autobiography The Hiding Place. Reflecting back on the death of her sister, Ten Boom said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

The Lie of ‘Being In Control’

Ten Boom’s profound quote strikes at the heart of one of the realities of a life of faith. I find that one of the greatest challenges is my wanting to be in “control” of my life. In reality, any control I think I may have is an illusion – it is a false security. I find that the tighter grip I try to have on my life the more miserable I actually become. Whether it is my health, wealth or family, I don’t really have control.

Letting Go of Control with Scripture

Going back to the Ten Commandments, we are warned in Exodus 20:3 that, “thou shall not have any other gods before me.” We see this point dramatically illustrated when God told Abraham to offer his cherished son Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham’s willingness to do as God commanded is a model for us of obedience.

It has been said that our hearts are “idol factories.” We want to “worship” our careers, our sports, our kids, and other objects of our affection. It is hard to keep the big picture perspective of Job that, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” The giving part is great, but it is the taking away that is painful! I find that keeping an open hand is a real challenge. As the 80’s band 38 Special said in their 1981 hit, “just hold on loosely, but don't let go. If you cling too tightly, you're gonna lose control.”

Hold On Loosely

Whether it is dealing with the loss of a loved one, economic hardship, or health challenges, we are challenged to “hold on loosely.” How much heartache could be avoided, disputes resolved, and stress relieved if we kept a lighter grip and treated our “possessions” as simply opportunities for stewardship. Ultimately, our comfort is in knowing that God is in control. This does not mean that we should be “couch potato” Christians. Instead, we can boldly, confidently, and passionately be engaged in being ambassadors of Christ during our brief time here on earth. The final victory has been won, and we have assurance in our final destination. With the peace that brings, we can experience the joy of surrender and to “hold on loosely.”

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