Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let It Go

I get so excited when I know the babies are on their way over to the house. I love to hear the door open and them call, “Ya Ya…” waiting for my response. Everything in me delights at the sound of their voices. The other day they were there waiting for me when I got home. I was carrying in groceries, and my hands were full, and River came running and hugged me around the legs until I almost fell. I couldn’t get to the table with the groceries, and I had to stop right where I was, put everything down, and scoop her up. She hugs the best clingy snuggly whole body hugs I have ever received! But in order to receive that hug—I had to let go of everything else in my hands.

In order to receive something, we have to let go of something. That is so simple. I think the same is true with exhaling the past to receive the future. Do you suppose God waits for us to let go of what is in our hands so that He can give us fully what He means for us to have? As a young first time pregnant wife, I was so sick that I was out of commission. I heard a Pastor on the radio say that if we could not afford the things we wanted perhaps they were things God did not intend for us to have at that time.

It means letting go of “I want” and believing that He wants what is better for you.

It was the first time I had ever even considered that. Could there be things I want that He would not want for me? I let go of my dreams of furniture and decorating and decided that this little baby would be my priority as a gift given by God. And when God was ready for me to have the other things, He would give them—I was going to be good with that. I let go.

Through the years, there has been plenty more I have had to let go. Buddy and I were in our late 20’s and had been pastoring for 6 years. The church was growing, and we were so thrilled. All the things we had originally verbalized on the way to Boise were actually happening. People were coming to faith, lives were changing, homes were growing stronger, and we even had respect from the community. Buddy woke me up in the middle of the night in like the end of February and said he thought God had told him to go to back to Atlanta! “Oh surely not,” I said in a daze, “Go back to sleep and listen again…”. In the morning, he was even surer that God had said we were to move back! I knew that if we stayed where God did not want us to be, it would not be pretty. I loved the community and my family too much to not listen to God, so just like that, my heart said okay, and I let go of my dreams for there and believed God for what was to come. Letting go of one thing made room for God’s plan to come. To not let go of Boise would have made us miss out on Grace and all that God has done here for nearly 26 years.

How foolish would it be to hold on to your breath for fear there would not be another? The very nature of breath is that you let go and take another. Are there things you need to let go? Do you need to let go and believe God has a future and a hope for you? It may not happen right away—there may be parts that are delayed indefinitely or it may be just no. But every time I want something, I think, “If God doesn’t want this for me, do I really want it?” But then I exhale and realize I only want what God wants me to have—no more, no less. One time, I wanted a car really badly. It is the only car that I have ever had an accident in—I think it is not worth having what you want if it’s not when and what God wants. I want God things to be so OBVIOUSLY Him that I do not have to wonder.

It is letting go of “I can’t” and believing that He can.

One time Joy was doing her study abroad in Italy. She loved it there, but she really wanted me to come to be with her. She was sure I would love it. I laughed, “Oh sweetheart, it is taking everything we have for you to be there. I could not come too.” We talked a while longer and I said, “Let’s just pray and if God wants me to come, let’s pray that He would make it SO obvious there would be no doubt.” Almost simultaneously a lady called me about some artwork. She asked if I would paint a cover for her book. I told her no—she argued that she was sure God wanted me to do that. She continued persistently over the next few weeks. Finally, I agreed that I would ask Joy to do the cover—she had a professor that could oversee her work and make it quality enough to make a book cover. Me? I had no experience or training and could not do justice to her book that she had labored so diligently to write. “I can’t” played over and over in my head. Long story shortened is that I ended up having to do it because the publishing company pushed up the date to a time that Joy was unavailable. God had SO obviously provided from such a bizarre occurrence that it had to be Him. I exhaled the “No, I can’t do it” and inhaled the attempt and found myself in Florence. We have to let go of disbelief and breathe in the possibility and give God the opportunity to do so much more than we would have thought or done.

It is letting go of past hurts.

Sometimes letting go is a difficult thing. Sometimes it is letting go of a past hurt that is still hurting you. Words can hurt a long time and actions can about do you in. I have a friend that was driving a tractor in Illinois clearing some land at his hunting camp. The weeds were so tall that he couldn’t tell there was a huge ditch or ravine. He rolled through it, and it flipped the tractor on top of him trapping him under the huge machine. He was there 45 minutes before anyone realized what had happened and was able to free him. He was so tough that he got through it without being hospitalized, but he had broken ribs and had a bit of a time recovering.

We thought all was done and he was okay… several months passed and he noticed he was not able to breathe well. His shortness of breath was checked and rechecked, but nothing could be found. Finally a doctor noticed a thickening in the walls of his lungs. The lining around the lungs had become hardened and calcified. And his lungs were no longer able to expand and contract easily; they were becoming encased and hardened, not allowing him to breathe freely. Obviously my description shows I am not medical, but it is not the medical aspect that I see. The doctor said that this was caused by a previous extensive injury that had hardened so thick and hard that it was like breathing in a metal can that was getting smaller and smaller as the calcification got thicker. Have you been so injured you have hardened walls lining your ability to breathe in?

If I say hot, you say cold. If I say up? (Down) Black? (White) Inside? (Outside) Big? (Small) God? No! It is not Satan! God has no opposite. He is the biggest, the greatest, and the most powerful! As wonderful as God is, Satan is not equally bad, or oppositely powerful in horror and mayhem. He is not a foe too big for God. God takes what Satan means to ruin us and turns it into beauty. He is able to make those things enhance us not encrust us. God wants to take the things that are crusting over your heart and remove them so you can breathe freely and take in all that the Holy Spirit has for you.

It is letting go of bad thinking. Ephesians 4:23-32 and Romans 12:1-2

My dad had lung cancer; I’ve seen what not being able to breathe can do. Another friend’s brother just died of lung cancer. It ate through an artery and he bled to death right in front of her. I know people with emphysema that need to be on oxygen. It is hard to not get the air you need. Before we knew about the cancer, my dad started seeing things and acting strange. It was horrible. It broke my heart to watch his mind get messed up. About 6 months later, we found the tumors in his lungs and realized it had been affecting the amount of oxygen to his brain. Perhaps your injuries have affected your ability to think clearly? Perhaps you are not able to get enough of the Holy Spirit that you need to have healthy thinking? The difficulty that kind of incapacity can cause on you and your loved ones is not what God means for you to continue to live like.

God is bigger than whatever the pain and injury was; He wants to rid you of breathing in the tin can, He wants you to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Who is truth? Jesus says I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Jesus is truth.

Like enzymes break down our food and nourish us, or take air into every part of our bodies, the Holy Spirit nourishes us and breathes air into every part of us so we can function at our best. The next time you begin to cower in the corner or under a blanket afraid and hurt, tell Satan he is a liar and then let go of those thoughts; breathe in the truth of the Holy Spirit.

Could I say that I have been overwhelmed at trying to figure out how to help women? I want so badly to help your hurts and for you to live happy healthy lives. I try to figure out Bible studies and events and challenges and meetings and praying, but I really know that I can’t fix you. I am not a spiritual surgeon that I have the confidence to say, “Oh just listen to me, read this or attend this and all will be well.” But I do know God can. He is your answer. Hearing from Him will scrape the hard shell encasing you. He can remove your hurts and set you free. You do not need me or someone you think has a hotline to heaven—you can hear from God yourself. He wants to speak to you. He loves you. He says you are precious; believe truth, my dear friends. Let go of all that separates you from the love of God. Romans 8:35-39 “Can anything separate us from the love of God? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or when we are persecuted or hungry, or destitute or in danger or threatened with death? No… I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries for tomorrow-not even the powers of hell… no power in the sky above or in the earth below” The only thing that separates us is our will. It is our choice to respond to Him or not. He does not rob you of your choice. Won’t you choose to breathe in all that you can and let go of all that contains and hinders you?

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