Vale of TearsThe Power of Letting Go
The Power of Letting go
Oh my God . . . You had something far better for me than that I should waste my life in enjoyment – and repent though eternity. But at first I could not understand that and could not do it, and so force had to be used, just as one puts splints on a broken leg. The education consisted in leading me to be able to do freely what at first I had to be compelled to do.
Real renunciation, yes the delight of renunciation, is simply a lover’s understanding with God. Truth obliges me to admit that it was God who gave the hint. I had not dreamed of it, neither had I believed myself capable of it. But it was as though God had whispered the secret to me: renunciation is a higher relation to God; it is really a love-relationship, and for me, at least, an enchantment was spread over renunciation – I have never been so enchanted.
Writing from her own unique standpoint, this is how Robbie Davis-Floyd concludes the article we looked at previously:
Just as even obstetricians cannot explain the mystery of birth (they still don’t know what initiates labour), I can’t explain the mystery of this death/near-death/rebirthing process that is still taking place in me . . . I can give you no facile explanations or easy answers, only perhaps the sense that in fact, everything is as it should be. Certainly it is as it must be. As with labour, we can either surrender to the truth of death, or fight it till the effort kills us.
When I gave birth to my son at home, I learned the power of surrender to the tremendous force of life. Now I am learning the power of surrender to the tremendous reality of death.
May these two kinds of surrender balance and sustain me, teach me to let go of my fight to understand, and embrace the paradoxes my life encompasses. Like a mother who has just had the courage to give birth without knowing who her child will become, I am here, not knowing who I will become, but open, cracked wide open, to whatever life may bring.
I originally subtitled this book, Experiencing spiritual growth through loss because the Scriptures have much to say along these paradoxical lines. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches that: What we sow does not come to life unless it dies (1 Corinthians 15:36).
This verse points us to a remarkable truth that usually lies hidden from our eyes until something happens to bring it to the fore. Somewhere in the course of our pilgrimage, the Lord brings us to the point where the seeds we sow, the visions we pursue, and even the promises He has given us must fall into the ground and die before they can start to reproduce exponentially.
Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to death on a cross, so Paul was obliged to lay down his hard-won reputation as a scholar and a leading Pharisee, when he “enlisted” in the service of the risen Christ – and with it, all forms of earthly security.
At the heart of God’s finest works and ministries lie occasions (which usually occur out of the public eye) where men and women of God reach the end of themselves, and are obliged to hand their most cherished hopes and dreams back to the King of Kings. This sounds radical, but can you imagine anything worse than having bits of your life that are “yours” rather than “His?”
Catherine Marshall writes powerfully about what she calls the “prayer of relinquishment” in Something More. She testifies that yielding is the “golden key” that enables God’s purposes to prosper without any of the glory “sticking” to the group or individual concerned.23
The Lord is so gracious that even when He takes something precious from us, He finds ways to bless the outcome as much as if we had handed it back to Him of our own free will! It was certainly like that for us in the way in which the Lord developed a new and broader-based team in time for the 1987 Message For Our Times Conference in Malvern, which did so much to launch our ministry wider.
It was awesome to see the Lord fanning smouldering coals back into life again as we joined forces with a wide range of exceptionally gifted musicians, pastors and teachers.
As surely as there is blessing when we yield to the Lord’s will, there is nothing but grief and frustration when we run away from it. Think of the desperate plight the Israelites found themselves in when the Lord told them that He had finally had enough of their prevaricating, and was no longer prepared to go up with them to the Promised Land. With the notable exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, the whole of that generation perished in the wildernesses.
Faced with such a dire sentence, the people immediately put it to the test, much as we prisoners immediately check the strength of the bars across the windows. Hurling themselves against their enemy, they were soundly defeated, and left with no choice but to accept the terrible consequences that come when we push the Lord too far.24
Some of us hang on too tightly, as though everything depended on us. Yet all the time He is wooing our hearts to let go of all that tethers us, and to venture further out on the sea of trust – even when He leads us into waters we would not have chosen to sail in.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves Me.
There is one exception to this. Jesus speaks in John 10 about the devil coming as a thief, a murderer and a destroyer. Like a skilled pick-pocket, the enemy is forever trying to steal things from us. He achieves most when his work goes undetected.
Not content with taking what is rightfully ours, the powers of darkness aim to dispirit us to the point where we give up. Subtly, they may even try to make this destructive temptation sound like “holy yielding.”
These are matters where experience and discernment are invaluable, and where we need to be clear about matters. If the Lord is not asking us to yield something back to Him, giving it up may be nother less than a demonic strategy – in which case we need to respond with resilience rather than surrender. God can send the grace we need to hold, despite the pressure.
Reflect and Pray
God of unique intention,
and faithful intervention,
Nothing exists without Your will –
and nothing is beyond Your redeeming power.
God of the “no accident”
I resist all false urges to let go,
but bow my knee and yield
to Your careful choosing,
and pray for grace
to embrace this new found vista.