Hold on for dear life… how often have you cautioned your child with those words when you were pushing them in a swing. “Go higher, go higher,” they squeal, and you keep warning them to hold on.
This phrase has been around for centuries… as early as the 17th and 1800s. Then, it most likely meant your very life depended on how tightly you were holding to something that could prevent a catastrophe. Today we use it to warn someone to be careful…
I have a new understanding of holding on for dear life. One early morning I noticed several bumblebees asleep in the flower clusters of my Chaste (Vitex) tree. I shook the branches; no movement. They were clinging… stuck like glue.
Wondering what was going on with these bees, I discovered they, indeed, were sound asleep… until the morning sun warmed them. Some were females who found themselves away from the nest when the temperature dropped the evening before. These girls work all day gathering nectar and pollen to take back to the queen. When they get busy and night falls quickly, they must find warmth. Male bumblebees can never return to the nest once they leave, so when they get tired from chasing after the females all day, then they must find a place to rest.
… holding on for dear life… when it is too cool for their fat little bodies to move.
The center of a flower or the base of any source of nectar may be 10 degrees C or 50 degrees F higher than the atmosphere around. The sleeping bees must wait until the sun warms the air, and they are able to move. They are unshakeable, clinging to their source of warmth…
As the sun warms them, they begin to dance!
Caught in the cold, seeking solutions to multiple mazes in my family garden, I am encouraged to hold on for dear life. I am clinging. I want to be a bumblebee these days. But I want to be unshakeable even after I am warm in the Son!
“Fear the Lord your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him… He is your praise, He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:20,21.
A sweet friend recently commented she doesn’t enjoy Facebook these days. “Everyone touts their perfect vacation, their perfect children, their perfect relationships… well, my life is not perfect these days.” I can surely relate to her heart as she shared; in fact, we cried together. True, life is rarely perfect, and we survive the little battles, the detailed detours without wavering… but it is the overwhelming avalanches that weaken our hold. I love the honesty, the vulnerability of some who share their hurts and pain so we can walk with them during their struggles. But more often, we and others, carry our pain alone.
What do we do when we are caught in the cold? … when life issues make it too difficult to collect nectar? Most of us know what to do, where to go. But often we must be reminded by observing the bumblebee… caught with nowhere to go except to the source of nectar.
The definition for clinging in the Cambridge English Dictionary takes my breath: a person who stays close to and depends on a Person(my capitalizing) who is taking care of them. Another meaning is to be firmly united with strong affection. I want to cling to this source of nectar, my Center, even when life hurts.
“Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63: 7,8
“You are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.” Joshua 23: 8
Clinging, holding on, remaining faithful… till we can dance again.