Wednesday, July 28, 2010


One of the critical lessons about life that we learn as we get older is the value of letting go.

There's a lot of stuff over which we have absolutely no control. It does no good to get all twisted up in knots over it or rage about it or lose sleep or precious time because of it.

You know what I'm talking about. Adult children sometimes make decisions we can't understand. Friends may verbally wound us and not even seem to notice. The aging process slows us down and wears us out and holds us back. Lack of financial resources might prevent us from doing some of the things we'd really like to do. Spouses, as they get older, may say or do this or that and where once we may have overlooked it, these days it is a real irritation. Long standing dreams may now seem out of reach with little or no hope of fulfilment. Unresolved sibling rivalry might be rearing its ugly head. Prolonged illness in the family may be robbing our joy.

It shows up in church life, too. Sometimes members up and hop off to some other congregation without saying why or even good-bye. Often programs and ministries limp along because of a lack of volunteers(a case could be made that if there isn't passion for some event or project in the fellowshIp then maybe God isn't in it and it should be scrubbed or avoided or put on hold). And there are the ever present whiners and complainers and negativity forces.

It's easy for any of us to feel helpless and powerless at what life throws at us from time to time. We have that sense that we have no control over our situation. We want things to go our way, to be just right. We're subconsciously longing for perfection. That's an echo from Eden and a hint of Heaven but we're caught in the in-between and so we get anxious and uptight and occasionally angry at the circumstances we face. That's totally human but it sure does hurt.

Someone wisely said once that if you can do something about what's troubling you, don't worry about it and if you can't do anything about some problem or thorn then likewise don't worry about it. That's good advice, even if hard to practice. Some things aren't going to improve. Some people are not gonna change(regardless of your pleading or pressuring or placating). Actually some of our painful issues are probably going to get worse. That's just the nature of life in this fallen world. It does us no good to get bitter or to sit and stew in our own juices and waste the valuable time we have and miss out on all the joys that this existence does offer.

We have to discover the practice of letting go.

The Apostle Paul, in Phillipians 4:12, speaks of having learned the secret of contentment. It encourages me that this greatest, most mature and godly Christian of all time, had to struggle and wrestle with this and learn it like we do. He suffered and sacrificed and had to release so much that had been of value to him previously(reputation, educational attainments, position). But he fell back on the sovereignty of God. The Lord knows what He's doing and only permits or allows what is for our good and His glory. God is carrying out His plans and purposes for us as He works in us. Check out 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. If we gradually lose our health or our long-cherished hopes and ambitions, or if we find ourselves stuck in circumstances that we wouldn't have chosen and cannot remove, then we must trust in the midst of the darkness or discomfort like the ancient sufferer testified in Job 13:15. All this is part of our sanctification process.

Jesus on one occasion had to gently rebuke Peter for being overly worked up over something that he was concerned about needlessly(John 21:20-22). Our Lord told him that he shouldn't be in a tizzy about it but instead should just focus on following Him. Many times we fret over things that end up not happening. A lot of times we stress out over stuff that's none of our business or we get bogged down in other people's junk.

As we practice letting go of foolish worry(Matthew 6:25-34), and as we start giving away more and more of our treasures and trinkets and tools now and as we yield up our fears and anxieties over losses and distresses to the Father(the famous Serenity Prayer comes to mind) we rehearse for that moment when we will have to surrender everything in death. Perhaps that is why Jesus could so effortlessly cry from the cross "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Likewise Stephen, in Acts 7:59. When you've lived in simplicity and generosity and humility and obedience and abandoned self-interest, you can die without fear or regret

Breathing in, breathing out. Accept with gratitude what God gives. Release back to Him what you cannot cling to or handle on your own. After all, it's not about our image. It's about His image being formed in us.