We gave him a helium balloon when my son was three or four. He was thrilled and held it tightly while it darted and bobbed in the breeze. As long as he focused on the balloon twirling in the air, he maintained a good grip on the string and could control its movement with a swing of his arm. That balloon was his, and clearly, it was the main thing of interest to him until it wasn’t.
Suddenly, something else caught his attention—an airplane, a bird, or another child running past--I can’t recall. But the distraction was quick and effective. He let go of the string, and instantly the balloon ascended higher and higher into the blue sky. It went up, up, and away, and sadly, he watched it disappear altogether.
Shocked and dismayed at his sudden loss, he pointed to the sky and said, “Looney go way ‘buh high!” (“Balloon go way up high!”) He knew it was gone forever. The slightest distraction shifted his focus, and he momentarily forgot the importance of his tight-fisted grip on the string. He released control, and the balloon was no longer his. It was beyond his control.
Keeping a death grip on our stuff keeps it bobbing and floating within our reach and control. We like the sense of controlling stuff like our material possessions, titles, positions, bodies, families and relationships, community and church involvement, etc. As we stress about any one of those things we’re so tightly holding onto, our focus becomes more and more fixed on it and less fixed on the Lord. Before we know it, the person, situation, or possession we’re desperately trying to control becomes more present in our thoughts than Jesus, and we’re heading into troubling territory.
The Lord is a jealous God to the degree that He commands us to have no other gods before Him. "You shall have no other gods before Me,” He said in Exodus 20:3. Just because I have no statues of Buddha, dragons, frogs, or fairies that I worship, I may still have other stuff I value more than the Lord. We like controlling our stuff, and it often seems we’re being extraordinarily responsible and righteous to keep a tight rein on things. In reality, we’re tightening our grip on the string, ensuring we control the balloon, not God.
Why not allow yourself to be pleasantly distracted by the Spirit of the Lord for a while today? As you spend some time reading His word, talking to Him, and thinking about Him, allow Him to loosen the death grip on the stuff you hold onto most tightly. Let the balloon go. Just let it go.
King Solomon, cool as he was and wiser than any man on earth, said in Ecclesiastes 3:6, “…there is a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.” He knew how to let go of the string. Considering the extravagant wealth and power he possessed, it is remarkable that he saw the value of letting things go.
It’s all about learning to focus on what is really valuable. A verse that helps me let go of the strings I so tightly grasp when I feel that I must be in control is Psalm 46:10, be still and know that I am God. The Lord wants to be a quick and effective distraction when we focus on the wrong thing. He wants us to realize that He is the most valuable possession! Ponder these two verses if you’re struggling with letting go of something that is commanding too much of your thoughts and attention:
Hebrews 3:1—Therefore, holy brothers, partners in a heavenly calling, keep your focus on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.
Colossians 3:1—Therefore, if you have been raised with the Messiah, keep focusing on the things that are above, where the Messiah is seated at the right hand of God.
© 2023, Chris Werre