A Confession About Letting Go

Confession…for most of my life I have been a captive to things, people’s opinion, money, titles, and control. That is not an exhaustive list for me but I am sure you get the idea. Over the last five years I have noticed the Lord calling me to a simpler way of living. There has been lots of kicking, screaming, and adolescent defiance. But when Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I found myself intrigued and drawn to a different way of being.

In many ways the last year especially has felt like a purging of all the things that kept me captive. I let go of my home, two thirds of my possessions, old beliefs, behaviors, and titles that seemed to matter. Even as a counselor I did not really understand what it meant to let go. We talk about it as the last stage of grief but what was I grieving? I realize now I was grieving an old way of being but the time had come to move on. Letting go was not about forgetting but more about what I was giving my life’s energy and attention to. I started praying, “In Him I would live and move and have my being.” (Acts 17:28) In the wake of doing this I have been enthralled by Jesus’ response.

Upon letting go of many things I did not miraculously get blessed with a million dollars, free stuff, and instant fame. In fact from a worldly perspective this is the poorest I have been since college. I can also tell you by unloading all that “stuff” I was able to create space for some pretty amazing things. My Jesus has blessed me with an overwhelming sense of His love and presence. I have found rest, an easier way to live, and freedom. While there are other things I am learning to surrender each thing I release allows a little more space for God’s Kingdom to reign in me.

I am learning to let what He gives me be a gift I can freely pour into others. It is as if the light in my world had been on a dimmer switch and now the light has been turned completely on. All of this just by letting go of what never belonged to me in the first place. By fixing my eyes on Jesus I am fully able to run the race He has set for me (Hebrews 12:1,2 par.)

We all hold onto things that we think we need or want. Sometimes those things make us a captive to this world. In fact it is the things of this world that lead us to feeling tired and weak. But God says this in Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” What is the “thing” that makes you a captive or causes you to grow weary? Is it a possession, is it money, is it a desired perception, is it an addiction, or is it a person? Where would God call you to let go? What hinders you from being captivated by Jesus? Do you dream of soaring on the wings of eagles? It is my prayer that we would all be discerning of what we need to let go of. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. “ Hebrews 12:1

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Blessed

Who is truly blessed? As I watch international news my heart aches. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed many of them children, dozens of Jews, all the passengers and crew on flight MH17, almost 50 people in Tripoli, and an untold amount in Syria. This is not to mention the many innocent children and adults killed daily within our own borders. This list could go on but what it often boils down to is power and political advantage. What can we do?

I was recently talking about the conflict in Palestine with one of my closest friends, as we felt helpless to do anything. Hundreds of civilians are losing their lives and we have little power to change that. Many people take sides and root for their country of choice but how many are praying for the innocents caught in these battles. Every life lost represents a son or daughter, a mother or father, a friend, and human worthy of living a full life.

We excuse these battles by pointing fingers at who started it justifying another political powers right to kill civilians. This is hard for me to understand. As I prayed for the people in the various countries Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount continually surfaced to my mind.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Being blessed is not about being strong or having the most power. Being blessed is much more about the motives of our heart and an awareness of what we lack. Jesus said the peacemakers would be blessed, as would those that were persecuted for righteousness sake. I might be wrong but when I think about these descriptions I wonder if people that do not know Jesus could be considered blessed. When I think about people that have crossed my path I confess that I have met some “unbelievers” that fit the above description. It is my prayer that the victims of the various political battles would experience God’s blessing.

Recently I read a devotional by Henri Nouwen asking us, “Who is Your Neighbor?” He talked about the story of the Good Samaritan. It wasn’t a Jewish man or woman that helped the brutalized Jew lying on the ground but a man from Samaria. He was a man with different beliefs that came from a different culture. In fact the Jews treated Samaritans with contempt and prejudice. Yet this Samaritan was able to look past that and saw a human in need. Nouwen goes on to point out that our neighbor is the person in need that we allow ourselves to serve and love.

When I think of the persecuted men, women, and children around our world I start to wonder which of them God is calling me to serve as my neighbor? Many of us tend to only love our “neighbors” that look like us and believe like us. What can we do for the civilians living in fear on the Gaza Strip or along the countryside of Eastern Ukraine? How can we bless the orphaned children in Somalia and the downtrodden in North Africa? Are you someone who is truly blessed? I pray that we would open our eyes to see the humanity behind the numbers of lives lost. I pray that we would realize that many of those people were poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry, thirsty, merciful, pure in heart, peaceful, and persecuted. I pray that our hearts would truly learn to see people different from us as our neighbors and someone to love.

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*photo retrieved fromhttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2012/11/2012112091248733420.html