“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19
When my grandmother realized that she could no longer live alone and must leave the home where she had resided for almost seventy years, she did so without even a hint of resistance. Her only request from among the innumerable worldly possessions that filled her huge rambling two-story house was an old Seth Thomas mantel clock, a family heirloom older than she that had been keeping time through every season of her long life. It was a modest petition and only fitting that she and her beloved time piece should remain together while she lived out this last of her seasons. Except for the clock my grandmother simply let everything else go without blinking an eye, a lifetime accumulation of worldly goods each with its own special memories. So it was that with that old clock ticking away in her small nursing home room, my grandmother gracefully lived out her final years as she grew deeper in faith, hope, peace, and love, sharing her wisdom with her beloved family whenever she could. It was her final gift to us.
Letting things go is not just a lesson about facing old age, though. It is a lesson for all of life; for it is only by letting go that we create space for new growth. A young entrepreneur who starts a successful business, for example, must sooner or later hire an employee or bring in a partner, and in doing so let go of some of the responsibilities. If not the business will fail to grow. A newlywed couple must relinquish some of their habits from the single life in order for their relationship to grow. Parents as their children mature must slowly let go of their grip so the child can grow into a responsible adult.
Don’t get me wrong about my grandmother’s earthly treasures, some of which I inherited, including the old Seth Thomas clock. I cherish those items that came from her home and the stories they reveal about my grandparents’ lives and my memories of them. But not a single one of those items compares to the lesson I learned from my grandmother that moment she simply let everything go without blinking an eye. For her the words Jesus spoke are about as practical as they come. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I hope one day that will be my final gift as well.