My first assignment for the new year in my spiritual practices course, was the “Grand Examen.” This is the process of looking closely at my past year to see what has happened and to notice where I sensed God’s presence with me.
So, I pulled out my journals for the year and began to flip through, noting significant events and changes. Soon, a theme emerged. I realized that I had even written some blog entries on the subject. About half way through the year, I had asked this question “What do I need to let go of and release in order to embrace and receive what God has for me up ahead?”
It was so clear. My last year was one of letting go, releasing.
- Letting go of several women that I had discipled for several years. After pouring many hours of time, energy and love into them, I watched them move out of my life.
- Letting go of the first half century of my life—my supposed youth. On April 26, I turned 50.
- Letting go of women’s ministry event planning. When I finally admitted I could not (and should not) do this anymore, God called another to take my place.
- Letting go of trying to fix my loved ones. This has been an on-going lesson, but this year I think I finally, really and truly, let it go.
- Letting go of my sons as they transitioned to independent living. I am grateful that this transition was gradual, with first one son moving out, then the other going away for a six month mission experience and finally, both getting an apartment together.
Letting go is hard. For a variety of reasons. I wanted recognition and appreciation for my time and labor. I wanted to stay young and avoid physical decay. I wanted to cling to what is familiar and comfortable. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to be needed. I wanted my identity and role to remain intact.
But letting go was crucial if I am to grow and become more like Christ. I think this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). In letting go of my disciplees, they are able to walk more independently and I am able to turn my attention to others. In letting go of trying to live out my youth, I am able to embrace the combined experience and wisdom of my years and serve God even more effectively. In letting go of some ministry responsibilities, I enable others to use their gifts and I can learn new skills. In letting go of trying to fix others, I actually challenge them to step up to the plate and I free myself of unnecessary burden. In letting go of my children, I empower them to mature and I enable myself to embrace a new exciting chapter in my life.
I want to let go of the things I am holding on to so that I can take God’s hand and follow him wherever he might lead. I do not want to be, as C. S. Lews said, “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea.”
What do you need to let go of today so that you might embrace God’s plan for you?
Hear his words to you:
My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession. Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away. I know what you need, and I have promised to provide all of that—abundantly! This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment. Instead of grasping and controlling, you are learning to release and receive. Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation.Sarah Young, Jesus Calling