THE TONY CROSS COLUMN
Article No. 130
Have you learned to let go yet?
(Archived material may be found at tonycrosscolumn.org.uk)
Have you learned to let go yet? Or are you still hanging in there just trying to manage?
Trying to manage! We all start there. We all start off with high hopes of managing - of succeeding - of better things ahead. Nothing wrong with that, surely? Shouldn’t teenagers have the ambition, idealism and drive to see big goals ahead and to strive for them?
But life proves not to be a walkover. All of us have to learn to temper our ambitions by the realisation that maybe we are not going to quite reach that target that seemed so inviting and easy at the beginning. So what is the learning process that we all have to go through? What is it that ‘experience teaches’?
I suppose one realisation that comes to us as we progress through life is that getting where we want to be usually takes a lot longer than we thought it would. All sorts of difficulties and problems arise and our ambitions have to change - and then some more! Achieving anything worthwhile takes time and effort and patience and tenacity. That is a lesson that we all have to learn.
In our Christian lives, too, we have much to learn as we progress through life. We have to learn that other people are stubborn and don’t change easily, if at all. We have to learn that passionately stating our truth - the truth as we see it - is not enough in most cases. People do not change easily. They need time. Sometimes they have to unconsciously adopt your idea and then regurgitate it later as their own idea.
We have to learn to let go of all sorts of things, including over our right to our own time. Often progress in our job means we are available to work all hours. Time that we could spend in a much happier and better environment!
In so many ways and at so many varied times we have to learn to let go. It is one of the great lessons of life and the quicker we learn it the better. It is true in the spiritual world too.
Letting go spiritually is the key to a more relaxed and fulfilling life. Yet it takes many people not years but decades to learn the secret. What does it mean to let go spiritually? It means we enter the state where everything assumes its right place in our lives and ceases to dominate and obsess us.
There are times when I am hiding from God and so, of course, the question of relinquishing things into his hands doesn’t arise. But at other times I find that the two main reasons for not letting go are busyness (although often the things I am busy with are really not important!) and lethargy - sometimes sheer tiredness or just a disinclination to bother.
It is also true of course that we have to learn to let go - some of us are so embedded in our busyness that we have forgotten how to let go. Worse still - perhaps we have never learned the secret in the first place!
So how does one define the state of letting go, and how does one achieve it?
Letting go is the term used (in this article) for the offloading by Christians of problems, troubles, cares and anxieties. It is a happy state because it bypasses so much low level misery. No more worried hours wondering what it going to happen. No more sleepless periods of the night when we become obsessed by what might happen, and what we would do if that happened, and what might then happen …and so on.
So how do we achieve this incredibly wonderful state - almost too good to be true! (There must be some catch somewhere, we say to ourselves!)
Sometimes the most complex things in life are in essence extremely simple. So it is with letting go. The secret is in the possession of every Christian - although many don’t know it, and have never really experienced the peace that passes understanding.
The key to the secret of letting go is to realise that our loving Father in heaven is in charge. Not in distant charge, but in close and actual charge. Not managing from a distance. Certainly not starting things off and then leaving them to run. No! Our heavenly Father is in actual charge of everything that happens. And not only the big things. Not just when we ask him. But in all things all the time.
‘Oh, that!’ Do I hear you say? But have you ever really believed it and trusted your life upon it? It seems much easier - and sometimes even quicker!- to try to manage everything ourselves. ‘If you want something done do it yourself’! That is a saying emblazoned on the hearts of most people. There’s one person you can really rely on - and its yourself!
So lets see how this idea would work.
It starts with a lively faith in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ. That simply means that you believe what the New Testament says about Jesus. And you put your trust in him. Don’t fall at that fence, because it is entirely within your grasp to attain such faith right now. All you do is decide to trust Him. Trust the Holy Spirit to show you how.
From there on you listen to whatever goes on inside you. Inside your head? Yes - because all of us have the capacity of thought - it is one of the gifts given to us by God. Often we maintain a running dialogue in our heads. ‘Why did you do that?’ we say to ourselves sometimes! We have to believe that we have the capacity to hear and understand when God wants to say something to us. Read any Christian book and somewhere in it you will find the author talking about hearing from God. Someone once said ‘I am convinced that when God wants to communicate with me he has a way of doing it’ Believe it! It is not difficult! The idea of a non-communicative God is a contradiction in terms for a Christian. Oh, yes, and of course, if He tells you to do something, then do it! It may seem trivial - but come hell or high water, do it.
We are now over half way there. Lets recap: we must believe in a loving God - the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must believe that God can communicate with us.
Right, now the second half of the secret of letting go.
It is to realise - that is, understand and accept - that God being all powerful and all-knowing is fully aware of every detail of your life and is working his purposes out through them.
Nothing that happens has not been foreseen by God.
Nothing that happens has not been reviewed by God and allowed to happen before it happens.
There is no event that has ever happened in this world that was not foreseen by God and allowed to happen. Even the crucifying of his son on the cross.
Now lets put the two halves of our method together.
We believe in a loving God - the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe that God has foreseen and sanctioned everything that has happened, is happening and will happen.
We can say that where we are right now is exactly where God intends us to be.
God is always present to us to show us the way forward in every situation.
Do you get it yet? Can you see the obvious truth that Christ tried so hard to get us to understand?
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing and yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
The very hairs of your head are numbered.
Don’t be anxious for your life as to what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor for your body as to what you shall put on.
Observe the lilies of the field - they do not toil nor do they spin yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field… will he not much more do so for you|?
Have no fear, your heavenly father knows you have need of these things
Trust your father in heaven
Don’t seek riches…..don’t build bigger barns…. trust God.
Do you get it? If we are prepared to accept that everything that happens has been permitted by God then we need fear no evil. There is nothing that can upset us or shift us from our dogged determination to follow Jesus through the whole of every day. Whatever happens to us!
‘Its easy for you to say this, but I’ve really got problems. It wouldn’t work for me.’ To which I have two responses:
The first is - have you tried it?
The second is - what is the alternative?
If you will realise that precisely where you stand at this moment - with all your problems and troubles - is exactly the place God intended you to be at this moment, then you are in the perfect place to give it all over to God right now. Lock, stock and barrel. All of it. Let go of it all and simply place it in His capable hands.
If you are feeling really strong - then you can start by thanking God for this predicament that you are in. Thank him for the mess you see all around you. Thank him that he has honoured you by allowing this challenge in your life at this time. And then thank him that you know that he will guide you through it all into his perfect way.
Can you do that?
Why not try it and see what happens?
Thousands - no, millions have tried it before you and have found the peace that passes all understanding when they have let go and let God.