Letting go and moving on!
(Note: For most, the picture in today’s post will mean absolutely nothing. For some of you, and you know who you are, let this be a reminder!)
This past week, I spent spring break with a group of teenagers from @cataylsttpcc‘s student ministry in Panama City, Florida. First, let me clarify that the area of Panama City wasn’t the one mile stretch of beach that gets all the spring break attention. Surprisingly, this Christian retreat center is on a very quite stretch of beach just a few miles away from the “party scene”.
So, what can a 44 year old father and student leader learn from an experience meant to be an experience to grow teenagers in their walk with Christ? Well, let me just say, like last years experience, the week was likely as impactful for me as it was any of the kids. Let me explain a bit.
We opened the week starting out talking about identify. My lovely wife, Lisa, knocked it out of the park sharing her personal testimony and how she has struggled with her identity nearly all her life. We’ll likely post more of the story here in the future, however, I was extremely proud of her and know this isn’t the last time she’ll be sharing in front of groups of students. For me, having shared much of the journey together, what stood out is how sin enters into a relationship and can have long term effects if we allow it. While Lisa accepted Christ at an early age, it was only when Lisa realized her true identity in Christ much later in life that she was truly freed. I know many of the students related to Lisa’s story.
While there were several other leaders who shared throughout the week as well as student devotionals, I don’t have time today to capture them all. What I do want to capture is some thoughts regarding an exercise designed to help us “let go”. I’m not going to detail out the exercise in the event it’s utilized in future workshops, however, I am going to speak to the point of “letting go”.
Earlier in the week, I ask my team what they needed to “let go and let God” about in there lives. This question coming at the tail end of identity discussions, many had to let go of allowing others to define their personal identity. For me, I shared with the group my need to continually let go of “financial security” and the “need to know” what’s next. As we journeyed through the week, it became painfully obvious that our resistance to “let go” is standing in the way of God doing a mighty work in our lives. While intuitively I’ve recognized this and grown tremendously over the years, this week was a great reminder that I must continue to “let go”.
So, as some of our students related, “OK, OK, I get it! I’m suppose the let go; however, what does that look like? How am I suppose to know what to do next? How will I know that I’m doing God’s plans?” Ahhhhhh, it’s the question many Christ followers wrestle with and seek to have answered. Given “free will”, how will I ever know if I’m following God’s plans or “my” plans? How about you? Do you wrestle with this question? I know I sure do.
So, what’s the answer? Well, are you ready for this one? It’s relatively simply to understand, yet extremely difficult for most to apply. Here you go: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV) Or another: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33, 34 NIV) So, the simple truth is to “let go” of our selfish desires, worries, and plans for our lives; “seek Him with all our hearts”; and, “He’ll make our paths straight.” While simply stated, as mentioned prior, this sometimes can be very difficult to apply.
To help with application, let me give you a firsthand story. As I related to our group this week, I’ve discovered that God will help us make decisions on even what might seem to be the small things in life like “buying Pacer tickets”. Yep, we encourage you to read our blog post “Will God help you buy Pacers tickets?” for the entire story; however, it’s a firsthand example of how He will direct us if we “seek Him first”. If you like this one, I encourage you to read the “yellow bird” stories as well. We’re still learning what it looks like and we hope these stories are an encouragement of what it can look like.
One final thought regarding the importance of “letting go”. I personally find it interesting that one of the books I was reading this week was “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud. While written much from a business prospective, it falls right in line with the theme for the week. Cloud states: “Life has seasons, stage, and phases. For there to be anything new, old things always have to end – and we have to let go of them. Growth itself demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things – people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them!”
For me one of those “necessary endings” happened in October 2008 when I lost my job and control in my life. It’s taken me awhile to “let go and move on” from this chapter in my book. That being said, I also find it interesting that I received a phone call mid-week during our spring break trip. While it wasn’t an “official” offering, it was an inquiring of whether I had interest in going back into a corporate position similar to that of before. Yes, this would solve all the “financial security” and “need to know” questions in my life; however, without hesitation, I answered “I don’t believe that’s what God is calling me to do.” Yes, this phone call was yet another time of confirmation for us. While I won’t get into details now, I will share that we’re in a stage of letting go of some “necessary endings” now to allow God to begin writing the next chapter in Chris and Lisa’s book of life.
So, how about you? What do you need to let go of today? Maybe it’s financial security, worry, sinful habits or desires, a harmful relationship, and the list goes on. Whatever it is, recognize that He can’t begin the next chapter in your book until you let go and move on.