Friends recently held a yard sale to raise money for a local school, Chop Point. Having just helped a family member move, I seized the opportunity to pare back some of my own clutter.
In a box to donate went my great grandmother’s perfume bottles (I don’t wear perfume or collect bottles); a mini collector’s plate for the May 12, 1937 coronation of King Edward VIII (who abdicated the throne before he was crowned); and several pottery tiles and dishes my mother bought while living in Jerusalem.
But when I showed up before the sale to help set up, seeing those heirlooms arranged in the nooks and crannies of a barn for others to paw through was just too much. Although I did manage to part with the perfume bottles, back in my van went un-King Edward along with the pottery and a few other items I’d donated.
“It’s okay,” Jean, the woman hosting the yard sale, laughed. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
“And Meadow giveth and Meadow taketh away,” I laughed with her, revising the first chapter of Job.
After acquiring great wealth and being blessed with an abundant family, the biblical figure of Job lost it all in one day. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there,” Job responded. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,” (Job 1:21 NASB).
When facing personal loss – of the more enduring and painful kind than donating to a yard sale – I try to hold what I love with an open hand, remembering that it all comes from God. While hard work, opportunity and a tendency to hoard may have helped me secure some of the things I hold dear, the only thing that is truly secure is my relationship with God.
I’ve also discovered that God gives far more than he takes. Scripture is full of the blessings God gives, including: mercy (Lamentations 3:23), strength (Isaiah 41:10), wisdom (James 1:5), peace (John 14:27), and salvation through the life, death and resurrection of his son, Jesus (John 3:16).
Best of all, you can never have too many, and God’s blessings are free. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” scripture promises in Matthew 7:7. God’s gifts are available to absolutely everyone. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8.
I don’t know about you, but I could sure use mercy, strength, wisdom and peace right now a whole lot more than a plate celebrating an uncrowned king. Even in the midst of extreme instability and loss – of the kind the world is experiencing right now – the Bible promises that God answers all who call upon him (Romans 10:13).
If you’re curious about what God has to give, check out some of these verses. The internet makes it so easy. And if you are experiencing loss, may the God of all comfort, comfort your heart and your mind (2 Corinthians 1:3). And may it be yours to keep.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith.