I used to think when God asked you to let go of something it was because that something was no longer (or never was) good for you. For example: letting go of your past laden with sin or pain. Or letting go of a lie that traps your mind and holds it hostage from truth. I’ve even seen Him call us to let go of something that someone else mishandled. But as my new year has begun, I’m quickly learning that it is not necessarily about punishment or failure at all. But it is always part of the process and many times letting go hurts.
Especially when we have to let go of something good.
Recently, I had to step down from a position I dearly loved. It was a place flowing with milk and honey or more aptly put–flowing with outlets for my passions and dreams. I was so very comfortable there. Like a glove, this place fit me and I fit it. It resembled everything I thought a promised land should be. Lush and green, full of hope and possibility. I was so satisfied there.
But God said, “It is time to go.” I packed up my camp, pointed my camels outbound and followed the pillar of fire. But I completely underestimated how much it would hurt.
As the Israelites wandered from place to place in the desert they experienced both the harsh, barren camps and the lush, beautiful oases. Many times they were called to leave the place of plenty, place of unity, or place of sweetness in order to enter the vast, empty and barren wilderness. Can you even imagine how difficult that was?
It hurt. There were tears and lots of questioning glances backwards. But they walked on.
As I’ve walked on I’m learning that letting go isn’t always easy, it can feel counter-intuitive, but it is for good, always. The pleasant places along our journey are no less valuable when we leave them. And if the next encampment is harsh, barren, and hard it doesn’t negate the beauty of the last. God is not a God of punishment, He is a God of present love and there is always more to the story.
I’ve said it a hundred times in this blog series. And I’ll say it again.
This is a journey. A journey of beautiful, pleasant moments right alongside hard, difficult ones. Both hold intrinsic value, both are necessary. And one doesn’t nullify the other.
So as you move from one station to the next along your hope’s journey let me encourage you. In the hard times, when you are letting go of something good simply because God said it is time. Know these things:
1. Its ok to grieve.
I talked a bit about this over Christmas, but I think it bears repeating. Feel the feels. Give yourself permission to cry and miss what you are leaving behind. (just don’t let all the feelings take over your vision and turn your oasis into a bitter spring). You are feeling those feels because that place along this journey mattered, it had and still does have a purpose in the grand scheme of things.
By feeling the feels and going through the process of grieving, (it is a process, check THIS out) you can begin to harvest from all those seeds planted there. Sadness and joy can coexist, remember? And by linking both of those emotions with your memories, you sew those moments into the glorious tapestry of your journey. It mattered.
2. He is always with you, even as it hurts.
It’s easy to forget that God is more than just a miraculous-split-the-sea kind of God. When we have to let go of something good, when life just hurts, we think it’s all about the punishment or the consequence. But He is more than the “big man upstairs,” He is God with us. He is more than the vending machine sending manna every morning, He is the walk-with-your-every step, every-day kind of God.
He wants to be with you, even in the pain. So let Him. Allow Him to walk with you, sit with you, cry with you. Trust His hand to not only keep leading you, but to assure (and comfort) you in each and every step. Just think– The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stayed in front of the Israelites in a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night through EVERY campsite–good and bad. His tabernacle set up and torn down every. single. time. Just like His people. He was with them in the wilderness, and He’ll stay with you too.
Did you know that the words “Be Still” are the equivalent of the Hebrew word “raphah” and it means to let go? Yes, serious. So Psalm 46:10-11 can also read like this:
“Let go and know that I am God. …The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
As we wander along in this journey, remember it is all about the process and not so much about the destination. Learn to listen to His voice, trust His provision and lean into His protection. May we know the great I AM is always near, whether it is the dry, dusty plains or the green and lush oasis, He is here.
We chatted a little about this last Friday (January 26, 2018) over on Friday Friends. Come check it out.
This is the final post in this Breathe Series (Here’s the First, Second, and Third). But truth? My Word for 2018 is ‘Go’ and I have a feeling I have lots more to learn about ‘Going’… so this actually may double as the first post in another series. (can you hear my chuckle?)