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Beggar’s Bag to Birkenstocks: A Story of Holding On

“the man was holding tightly to…”

“Holding tightly” stirs one image in my mind, but two different scenarios. The image is fingers fastened around an object intensely enough it would take a set of plyers to peel them off.

The first scenario is out of sheer fright; a fear gripping terror locked in from the heart sends a surge of panic-stricken muscles forcing us to grab hold of something with all our might. It is the scary movie when your hand unknowingly reaches out and grabs a friend’s hand for dear life until the scene has passed or the noise in the middle of the night when both hands become one with the baseball bat until the source is discovered.

The second scenario is from a sense of desperation. The same intensity of the heart exists as with the first scenario, but it is with eyes intentionally fixed, feet planted, a determination that motivates the muscles in the fingers to forcefully grip an object. It is like the toddler who suddenly has the strength of Iron Man when refusing to let go of blanky or paci. It is one hand on the spoon, the other hand in a teamwork effort with arms and shoulders resolutely positioned in protection of the entire half of gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

We hold on tightly out of anxiety. We hold on out of anguish.

In Acts chapter three, Peter and John were on their way to the temple for afternoon prayer when they walked by a man seated at the temple gate who had been crippled since birth. The lame man was there to earn money in the only way possible for him. His hope relied on the mercy and compassion of those headed into worship that they would hear his pleas and drop a coin into his beggar’s bag.

Peter and John did not have money, but they did have mercy and compassion. They offered the lame man, through the name of Jesus, the ability to walk. The man went from crippled, sitting at the temple gate begging to “walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3: 8).

A man who had never walked a day in his life, who had never been able to enter the temple because of his condition, was now ecstatically running around waving his hands, praising God for the first time.

Little time elapsed before the man was back in the sights of the ones who had blessed him and “the man clung to Peter and John” (Acts 3:11, ESV). Other translations say, “holding tightly,” “clinging to,” “held on to.”

The scenario is set, but was the formerly lame man now crippled with fear or desperation? Was the man holding on to Peter and John out of fear from his newfound fame that granted him unwanted attention? Was the man desperate not to lose his ability to walk and clung tightly to make sure the miracle stuck?

The motive for his behavior is not revealed. Fear and desperation are the most common reasons for a firm grip, but a possible third purpose could exist. Dependence in a healthy sense could be what is at play. The man regrouped from his miraculous healing to realize he didn’t know and ran back to learn more.

When we are given freedom from something that held us back, receive healing in our soul, body, and emotions, we readily embrace running and jumping around being filled with joy, and then we move on too quickly with our lives.

The lame man returned to Peter and John, regardless of his motivation, he found himself clinging to the source that brought His healing. His return to the miracle workers did not fail him.

Within a matter of moments, the man learned about Jesus, the promised Messiah, and the true source of his healing. In their presence, he was able to grow, learn, and be strengthened in ways that would sustain his fresh inner healing for the days ahead when the newness of walking wore off.

In the smooth times, when our grades are going well, the kids behave, and income seems to cover more than the bills. When our loved one’s health is on an upswing, the relationship appears to be on the mend, and our mind is not racing to the next thing. In these times of joy, we need to return to Jesus, who is our life source and allow Him to continue to pour strength into us.

We need to hold tightly to Him even more so during these times to gain strength and steady our pace, build on our grateful hearts, and dig a deeper well of truth. We also need to hold tightly to those in our life who point us to Jesus. What we do during the good times is just as important as how we respond when we are struggling?

“I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely” Psalm 63:8, NLT.

Meditation: Jesus, I hold on to You.

Reflect: What are you gripping firmly and what makes you hold on so tightly? What have you walked away from that you need to return to? Are you holding tightly to sources that are life-giving and truth grounded? If not, what is one step you can take to rely on to grow in your understanding of God and His Word?

Digging Deeper: Psalm 63:1-8; John 14:1-11; Acts 3:1-11

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(Bible References: ESV – English Standard Version)

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