had a very long talk the other day.
Well, okay, I did most of the talking.
I will not be explaining the issues involved, but I thought it was worth sharing the larger theme of loosening our hold on things we've thought we couldn't live without.
There are times when God asks us to give up certain things in our lives. Sometimes it's a sin of which He's convicted us...a habit we need to leave behind...an attitude we've developed that is counterproductive...a grudge we've held for too long.
But other times, He asks us to give up, to loosen our hands and let go of, good things. Things that have given us pleasure, success, satisfaction...dreams we've held onto because we believed they were part of His will for us...activities that have given us meaning and fulfillment...desires that have been part of us for as long as we can remember. Sometimes, He asks us to just let go.
There are times when I believe He wants to let go of the good so He can give us the best. It may be something we've considered of great value, even spiritually...something that has brought sweetness or robustness to life and something that has come to give us an identity now important to us...and yet He says, "It's time to let it go."
Other times, I think He wants us to get to the point where we are willing to let go, only to see Him turn around and restore it. It's an Isaac-on-the-altar thing, designed to give us a glimpse of how much we really trust Him. He's not the one who needs the glimpse: We do.
Remember I said that I did most of the talking? Well, it turns out that was only the first half of the conversation.
The next day, due to a set of circumstances which evidently had little to do with His real purpose, He moved me way out of my comfort zone and put me in a place where my ears were "perked up" and my heart was in a mode to listen. I sat in a worship service where the pastor was obviously notified in advance that I was coming, and he quite flagrantly addressed the entire message to me. I think it was pretty sneaky of God to allow him to do that, but then perhaps He had already exhausted other means and knew what it would take to get me to listen.
It wasn't even the kind of service that I would necessarily be comfortable being a part of on a regular basis...it wasn't one that "meshes" with my preferred worship style.
But on this day, it was not a mistake. In fact, it was a divine appointment.
My heart was shaken to its core. Like it hasn't been in a long time. I left literally trembling. I sat in my car alone for five minutes, stunned. And I knew in that five minutes my inner life was changed forever.
Five minutes was just the beginning. That was too easy.
Last night I lay awake almost all night, listening, taking inventory, letting Him bring all the things to mind that needed letting go. And of course, the more I listened, the longer the list grew.
Wow, Lord, that too?
Then, the list became more and more fine-tuned. Expectations I have for people in my life. Things about myself I want changed. "Needs" I have that may never be met. One of the things I began learning about myself is that, sometimes, letting go of what seems like the little things is just as hard or harder than letting go of the big ones. And that can be pretty humiliating.
The sun peeked over the horizon before enough space appeared between items in my growing list that I finally drifted off to sleep. But in some ways, my night of deconstruction has only just begun.
The issues on which God is confronting me didn't get installed in my life overnight and won't be gone overnight, but I'm clear on this: He has begun a process that has left me changed. Things in my internal world will never be the same...
I'm letting go.