Tag Archives: letting go

hold all things loosely

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever.” Psalm 86.11-12 NIV

A wise woman once said, “…you must learn to hold everything loosely…everything. Even your dear family. Why? Because the Father may wish to take one of them back to Himself, and when he does, it will hurt you if He must pry your fingers loose.” Those words were spoken by Corrie ten Boom upon one of her last visits to the church Charles Swindoll preaches at. Wonderful words of wisdom. If only we all had that knowledge from the get go.

Nothing tangible in this life belongs to me. Or to you. Nothing. It all belongs to God. It’s His. And yet, we have this sick tendency to hold on to every little tangible thing that we get in life, failing to see it for the blessing and gift that it is. We even try to hang on to emotions, which are as fleeting as the wind.

Even I belong to Him.  

Since God is sovereign, not only is our time in His very capable hands, but our possessions and all of the people we love or care about in this life belong to Him. Releasing our rights to Him includes the deliberate submission of our grip on everything and everyone. It is easy? Never. Although, I believe it may get easier with time as we learn, or in some cases, if we learn.

And as much as we each individually would hate to admit it, we love the things we possess so much that letting go of them becomes unbearable, even impossible. The things we cherish could be material, like our first car, or relational, like a first love or a friendship that becomes dear to us. Yet, there comes a time when we must release that which steals our affection from God. We must lay it down because He demands it.

Letting go is something I struggle with daily. I’ve written about it before. I’ve even talked about it with my accountability partner, multiple times. One would think that I would have accepted this truth by now. Over the years, I’ve had hopes dashed, relationships have come and gone, beloved pets have passed away and I’ve misplaced or lost items that once held deep meaning to me. One would think that I would have accepted the truth that nothing in this life lasts. Only God. He’s the only One I can cling to and I know He won’t ever leave…even during those times when He seems distant. We must remember that He is the source of every blessing we receive in this life.

I’ll be honest and share that it is difficult for me to grasp the truth that all things belong primarily to God at times.

What do we tend to hold onto? Relationships, goals and dreams, the past, old hurts, wrong ideas and perceptions (especially those that lead us to believe that we’re not worth it), timing, possessions, and more.  I’m guilty of it. The computer I do most of my research on at home belongs to Him. I worked hard to pay for that “toy,” and even though it’s a simple machine, I have a personal attachment to the thing because I’ve slaved over the keys for long periods of time. Or how about the closet full of fashionable clothing that caught my eye on the bargain rack? Or the plethora of books sitting on the bookshelf in my apartment? Or the car parked out back?

Now, I don’t believe He’ll call all of these “toys” home one day and we’ll be left with a metaphorical mechanical graveyard (a.k.a. junkyard)…God’s not interested in things. The thing is, He blessed me with the job that aided in earning the money needed to buy that machine. The job and the cash were gifts; blessings He saw fit to give me.  It’s when those items become idols; when they take the place He deserves, that it becomes a problem.

Now, how about the relationships I have with my girlfriends? Even those I have with my guy friends? My family? The very things that breathe fullness into this social butterfly’s world?

Again, we must remember that He is the source of every blessing we receive in this life. When we treasure His gifts more than our relationship with the Giver, He sometimes has to strip away some of those benefits. Anything you hold too tightly, you will lose.

We get several examples of this in scripture and I would like to take notice of Abraham the day he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, through whom Abraham was supposed to have had descendents that outnumbered the stars in the sky. Get that? Abraham was asked to give him up. And what was his response? Obedience. God knew what He was doing and Abraham trusted Him. Completely. (See Genesis 17-22 if you are unfamiliar with the story).

I’ve been learning this the hard way (again) in this adventurous-ridden, beautiful life I’ve been given. I was given the gift of a relationship with another and I held on; probably a little too tightly at times. I tend do that… based on my own insecurities, hang-ups, the lies I’ve been told and my past. It’s twisted. And wrong. You would think a girl would learn by now after having experienced it all before. God has been testing my obedience to Him through all of this. What will be my next step; what direction is He leading me? I can’t even begin to think about the blessings that could come about because of how painful, faith-stretching and deep all of this has been. I’m focused on today; this very moment. What next?

I was driving back to Minneapolis this past weekend, my heart and gut in knots, when “This Life” by the Afters poured through the stereo system and I found myself reminded again:

…For a moment, we are here together
And it hits me that this won’t last forever

We can’t own it
We just get to hold it for a while
This Life.
We can’t keep it
Or save it for another time.
This Life…

What we give is all we have
How we love is what will last
And this Hope we know will carry us through this life.

How tightly do we hold on to the objects and things of this world? Would we be willing to surrender everything to God?

The obvious answer is “yes,” but when it comes to living that out, we realize how challenging that “yes” can become. It’s not just objects that can be perceived as God’s. He fearfully and wonderfully made each human being that has ever walked the face of this terrestrial planet. Each one of us. Are we willing to give Him our relationships day in and day out; to trust Him with their fragility? Are we even willing to give ourselves to Him each and every day? After all, He gave us breath and the bodies we have. He’s the only source that keeps us living.

We’d be wise to start practicing what Corrie ten Boom counseled above. “Remember…hold everything loosely…everything.” We must surrender all things to God.

It’s hard and we often reclaim ourselves. I do it all the time. Will I ever learn? By God’s grace, I believe I will.

But…

When we surrender ourselves and all that we are and have to God, then we have everything in its right place.

Is He the most important person in your life? Don’t fixate on your own objectives, your own dreams and relationships and thereby miss out on His blessings and purpose for you.

I pray that you’ll choose to make Him a priority. Open your hands and let Him have what you tend to hold on to; to cling to. We would be wise to hold loosely the things of this world and cling tightly to Him. No person can love you (or me) the way He does and no material thing can satisfy the deep longings of your heart.

When we allow God the place He’s meant to have (that of our first love), the blessings will flow beyond what we can even comprehend.

I cling to You; Your strong right hand upholds me. Psalm 63.8

Cling to Him and hold everything else loosely.

Hold tightly to Him only.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:10

Forgive.

One of the toughest things we are required to do if we are to live a life of love.

Has someone hurt you? Have you been wronged? Have you done the best you know to do and it is still not enough? If you are human and walking among other people in this world, then I’m fairly certain I can hear a resounding “yes” to each of those questions.

As Christians, we know we will encounter people who dislike us, who hate us, who will insult us if we are truly living a life for the glory of God. And I personally pray that that’s true of me. We’ll be launching our church soon and if we don’t get doors slammed in our faces, I would be surprised and ashamed. Persecution shouldn’t catch us off guard. Jesus said it would happen.

What about when a fellow Christian treats you wrongly? It happens. It’s hardest when we endure rebuke, rebuffs, and anger from our brothers and sisters or blood relatives (no matter how close you are to them).

Grudges can divide families and friends. Many things can foster resentment in relationships. But love can prevent and heal resentment. Nowhere is truth better expounded than in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Love covers a multitude of sins. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love holds no grudge and is not resentful. Just look at the differences between the father and the oldest son in this story. The father focused on the relationship, not his youngest son’s foolishness. His brother, on the other hand, kept a grudge.

I recently went home for a weekend, just to recharge my batteries (the pace of city life can drain a person) when a moment piqued where my entire family seemed to be at odds with each other…the whole five against two scenario. Conflict came from not picking up the phone and making that call instead of sending an email or text. Conflict came in digging up past grievances. From harbored anger. From unforgiven contention-sometimes years/decades old.

Sometimes we come with the best of intentions. We vow to accept irritating behavior; to keep the peace no matter what. Them something happens and it dredges up the previous hurt.

When we are confronted with our own shortcomings, we naturally defend ourselves by dredging up past offenses by those accusing us. We’re guilty of keeping a record of wrongs so that we can produce them when needed. We have to feel more virtuous than others so that we can maintain our self-esteem and avoid being put at disadvantage. So we play a game of tit-for-tat, exchanging accusations until we exhaust the goodwill we have for one another. We keep score because it makes us feel superior to the person/people we resent.

It’s time to let go. It’s time to ask God for the grace to forgive.

In The Love Dare, the Kendrick brothers write, “Forgiveness has to happen, or a successful [relationship] won’t.” (p. 121) Good relationships are not ones in which there is never any hurt, never any disappointment, never any betrayal, never any mistakes…but, those that follow 1 Corinthians 13:5 “keep no record of wrongs.”

How important is forgiveness? According to the Kendrick brothers, “When you forgive another person, you’re not turning them loose. You’re just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way…It’s about freedom.” (p. 123) It’s also about peace. Carrying around a burden of unforgiveness is dangerous. It causes distractions and guilt. Misunderstanding. We each much focus on being in the posture of grace, thinking the best of one another….whether we are married or not.

I’m not. But I’ve chosen now to live in a way that not only honors my friends or the possibility of a husband one day, but God.

We pray for God’s forgiveness by praying the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6: Forgive us our debts and we forgive our debtors (or transgressors, those who have sinned against us, etc). That’s a dangerous request.

Think about it.

When I pray that prayer, I’m requesting that God forgive me just as I forgave my best friend for stabbing me in the back. I have to stop and ask myself, Have I truly forgiven her? Or am I harboring this grudge in my heart…this poison?

Jesus settled this when Peter asked Him how far forgiveness should extend in Luke 17. Peter thought that there should be a sin debt limit. But Jesus says Peter’s approach of limited forgiveness falls short – we have been forgiven so much, so we should give exorbitantly.

Personally, I’m glad God doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. If He did, we all would have been wiped from the planet along with the flood…along with the golden calf…along with wandering forty years in the desert…you get the picture.

Forgiveness is worth it and we can attain it by surrendering the arguing, the winning and losing, the rehearsing of a wrongdoing, the scripting of grievances – and let God do what He promises in Romans 12:19: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. This does not mean that things don’t get addressed that need to be addressed. “It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them.” (p. 123, The Love Dare) This is not a simple issue. It takes dedication and work on our part to let go and let God.

I had written a while ago on a resolution to forgive. Some may find it hard to forgive if they haven’t forgiven themselves, but know that Scripture doesn’t say that we need to. Jesus has already done that for us and we best remember and focus on that. We must center on the mercy God has shown us. He does not count your past against you. You’ve been forgiven all unrighteousness. So have I. 1 John 1:9-10.

It’s time to love.

Love lets the past die. Love does not seek for justice even though it is in the right. Love wants to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Love wants a new beginning.

Salvation in Christ results in the healing of painful memories. It is learning to forget what other people did to us and those we love. The power to forget is the power of the Cross. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Love is the power to forgive, to tear up the scorecard, to be reconciled, to leave the final accounting to the judgment and mercy of God. God settled accounts with us on the Cross. Let us leave our wrongs, our resentments, our grudges at the foot of the Cross of Christ. The love of God in Christ conquers all. The Gospel is God’s answer to the ills of the world.

Who in your life deserves the opportunity to earn your trust back and have you wiped away the record of their wrongdoings that you are keeping? Ask God to show you who those people are, and ask him for his grace to forgive them and work on rebuilding the trust in your relationships.  We have been forgiven much by God, pray and ask God to show you how to love by forgiving others as well.

It’s time to let go. It’s time to let God. It’s time to love.

Check out the video of the song “Love Never Fails” by Brandon Heath. The lyrics are taken from 1 Corinthians 13 and it effectively portrays how love should be and is.

Scripture to encourage you in truth today:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

“Father, forgive for they know not what they do.”

Today’s Challenge: Say “I choose to forgive” and mean it.

Work cited: Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)