Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
—1 Timothy 6: 17–19
I’m glad I was sitting in my living room Sunday, participating in church online, when I read and sang along with the worship band:
Gold and silver you can take it
All I want is You my Lord.
I actually laughed out loud as I thought, “Don’t pray that prayer unless you really mean it. God will take them!” Well, at least that was my experience.
About 15 years ago, I started to pray what turned out to be one of the most transformative prayers I have ever prayed. I think it was inspired by a combination of this week’s verse, noted above, and the beginning of a significant change in my husband’s career in education. As he moved from classroom teaching into education administration and his income began to grow, it was very important to me that I didn’t get attached to money or the things it can buy. I began to ask God to cause me to “hold loosely” to the things of this earth. I meant it kind of figuratively. You know, don’t “hold on too tightly” to money and things. Don’t value them too highly, not higher than people and definitely not higher than God. But God answered this prayer extremely literally. Over the course of 10 years or so, I literally “held loosely” to a bunch of jewelry my father, a jeweler, had made for me, including a sapphire and diamond ring made as a high school graduation gift, a “J” pendant with a diamond made for my 8th-grade graduation, two gold cross pendants, and my mother’s platinum wedding band that was hanging with one of the crosses. Oh, and my diamond wedding ring.
The first big loss, of the sapphire and diamond ring, came just months after my mother’s passing. It was devastating, and I was grief-stricken. That ring wasn’t only valuable for its precious metal and stones, but was dripping with sentimentality. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. But I did. And with each subsequent loss, and each experience of being okay without the stuff, I became less and less attached to the things. It turned out I was just fine either way, with or without the earthly treasure.
The semi-forced detachment from those jewelry items has affected me profoundly. It has extended to a detachment and freedom from cares about money and from other things. I’m grateful for all I have, but I know I could lose it all tomorrow, and I’d be just fine. Really. I don’t know if I could assert that with such confidence if I hadn’t given this issue to God, who gave me the experiences that taught me and changed me. I highly recommend praying a prayer that God will help you detach from the treasures of the world and hold tightly to him alone. Of course, I don’t know how God will answer this prayer for you, but I think you will find it to be a risk worth taking.