Don’t hold on? Now I get it


Jesus’ words in John 20:17 have puzzled me for decades.

Mary Magdalene was distraught that Jesus’ body was missing.  When she realized it was Him standing beside her, she was overjoyed!  Yet, at that dramatic moment, Jesus said, “Do not hold on to Me…”  OF COURSE Mary wanted to hold on to Him!  It’s what we ALL would do!

Every year as we study the wonderful Resurrection story, I come across John 20:17 and have a “Hmmm” moment.  Though I didn’t understand, I chose to trust that Jesus knew exactly what He was saying and hoped I might figure it out some day.

This year as we are trudging through the days of COVID-19, the verse has taken on new meaning.  The words, “Don’t hold on to…” echo in my mind.

Jesus knew He could not stay; the Holy Spirit was going to come.  And it would be a good thing!  It was just hard to comprehend!  In this verse, did He mean, “Don’t hold on…to the way things were?”

That’s what I’m feeling about Corona.  Every man, woman, boy and girl has been disrupted by the virus.  Everything has changed:  each church, ministry, family, and job.  We can’t hold on to how things were.  It’s a whole new way of life!

I feel like so many things or layers have already been stripped away!  Today, I’m pondering: “What is Jesus telling ME not to hold on to?” 

Is He saying, “Dawn, don’t hold on to your job.  Anyone can be laid off.  It’s not all you are.  It’s not what defines you.

Dawn, don’t hold on to your vanity.  Stop worrying so much about how you look!  You can’t wear makeup in an N95 mask.  And after donning a visor and face shield, how your hair looks doesn’t matter.

Don’t hold on to money.  Use it wisely and save for sure, but don’t forget to be generous.

Don’t hold on to past hurts.  Digging them up only causes you more pain than the inflictor.

Don’t hold on to relationships that cause you harm.  (Being “safe at home” sure aides in that!)

Don’t hold on to the ministries you lead.  It’s not yours anyway, it’s Mine.

Don’t hold on to guilt.  I know you’ve made mistakes, but I really, really have forgiven you!

Dawn, don’t hold on to your comfort.  The couch is cozy but it doesn’t change lives.  Get up, get going.

Jesus told Mary Magdalene things needed to change for the better.  He would go and the Comforter would come.  He knew best!

This very morning, I read the prayer of a missionary in the Pacific Rim (Voices of the Faithful, 2005):  “Lord, forgive me when I stubbornly hold on to things that don’t really matter, things that prevent others from possibly coming to Christ.  Show me attitudes, traditions or habits that may be stumbling blocks to others”. 

I am comforted that as I let go of unnecessary things, my Heavenly Father will keep holding on to Me!

Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at    


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