In the Bible, we constantly encounter people who choose to let go so that God can securely hold them and include them in what God is doing. This “letting go” thrusts God’s people into the undefined, the unknown, the uncertain, and the unbelievable, all of which are ideal contexts for vigorous faith development in the Christ-following life. Here are examples:
Noah let go of his pride and his worldview, spending more than a hundred years building something nobody had ever seen before in anticipation of something that had never happened before, all because God spoke to him.
Abraham let go of comfort and security and everything familiar, packing up and moving before he had a clue where God was taking them.
Jacob let go of his innate ability to get his way by deceiving people, instead trusting God to grant him favor.
Moses let go of his insecurities and his inadequacies and his many other fears, following God’s lead into one impossible situation after another.
Joshua and Caleb let go of their human inferiority against gigantically overwhelming odds, comparing their enemies to God instead of comparing their enemies to themselves.
David let go of his desire for revenge against the homicidally paranoid king Saul, repeatedly taking the high road.
David also let go of his ego, which meant the greatest Monarchy represented in the Hebrew Scriptures featured Jehovah as the Senior Partner and king David as the junior partner.
The prophet Elijah let go of his self-sufficiency and his freedom, allowing God to say dangerous things to powerful people through him, to feed him by whatever birds brought him or by what a starving widow fixed him, and to pit him against 850 false prophets in a showdown that became a shutout.
King Jehoshaphat let go of his pride and his panic, advancing against a coalition of three frothing armies by introducing the offbeat weaponry of a choir and a praise band.
The prophet Isaiah let go of his clothing for three years because God told him to.
Yes, that happened.
In His incarnation, Jesus let go of the benefits package that comes with being God, humbling Himself beyond our comprehension for our sakes.
Mary and Joseph let go of their expectations about marriage and about how babies are made and about parenting, moving with God’s Spirit into scandal, peril, and refugee status.
The disciples let go of their occupations and, in some cases, their families, in order to follow Jesus.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus let go of His human desire to avoid the agony of bearing our sins and feeling separated from Abba, staying the course to the cross because we were helpless without Him.
At Pentecost, the earliest believers let go of any notions about being in control of themselves or their lives, because the exact same Jesus they had walked with for three years had suddenly filled them beyond overflow in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Once persecution broke out, the earliest believers let go of any notions about being safe, confessing Jesus as Lord in the face of torturous death sentences.
On a roof in Joppa, Peter let go of “insider” and “outsider” categories, risking rejection in order to welcome Gentiles (“THOSE people”) into the body of Christ.
Paul let go of his admirable pedigree, his successful career, his dignity, his health, and his future in order to follow Jesus – even though he was promised suffering from the start.
In Philippians 3:5-14, Paul articulates the dynamics and the rewards of a relinquished life. Here is his autobiography in The Voice translation.
“I was circumcised on the eighth day—as the law prescribes—born of the nation of Israel, descended from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew born of Hebrews; I have observed the law according to the strict piety of the Pharisees, separate from those embracing a less rigorous kind of Judaism. Zealous? Yes. I ruthlessly pursued and persecuted the church. And when it comes to the righteousness required by the law, my record is spotless. But whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside—it’s nothing but a pile of waste—so that I may gain Him. When it counts, I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law, but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith. I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death, so that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead. I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.”
Paul let go of his life so that Christ Jesus could grab hold of Paul and never let him go. What do you need to let go of so that Christ Jesus can thoroughly grab hold of you and bring you into His Life?
…Hyperactive emotional sensitivity?
…Manipulation of others?
May you and I live into our own versions of Philippians 3:12. “I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go.”
In Jesus’ name,