We must learn to let go

You must learn to let go to move forward.

“Keep moving forward” my brother, Mike, used to say when we were settling the estate of our dear mother after her death.  The attachment and meaning of each object and task made moving in any direction difficult, confusing at times, and so very final.  Then we decided to take them one at a time.  Then we decided to learn to let go . . .

The unmade necklaces which would have surely been my best work needed to be disassembled today before they were ever completed.  If I had stopped to make jewelry this afternoon then I would have never made my deadline for shipping Trinity Jewelry by Design to its new owner.  I actually tried putting the beads back on the cotton fibers before realizing that I needed to stop and it would be o.k. to let these unmade designs go . . .

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The 9-foot mural on the wall of my condo in Naperville, Illinois took a year to complete.  I began with sunny colors of yellow tracing paper, pastel hues of unyru papers from India, custom-stenciled golden palm leaves, a few rhinestone swirls, lettering from a local sign shop, and a very important message about the bunny trails of life being such a very important part of the journey.  “But what about the mural?” my friends would ask when moving to be with my intended beloved would take me 200 miles to the East of my happy place.  Yes, finding true love required leaving the art of restoration behind:  a different song of letting go . . .

When the pain of running my life on emptiness, stress, unanswered questions of “why?” and never having enough to make a difference anyways I finally crashed into the arms of my Jesus.  At the time I was 29 years old, single, working full time, and forever trying to finish my Master’s degree.  Then a laundrymat attendant laid out the plan of salvation and invited me to come to the table of the Lord for refreshment, forgiveness, renewal, eternal life with Him.  Later that night with tears the wasted meaningless living-for-me finally did let go once and for all . . .

The hurt of wretched divorce grieves my Lord and me, sometimes even now when I have known such goodness in my new life with Steve.  It took me years of harboring what it would take to even the score if given the chance:  holding onto the files that would prove the ways in which I was wronged.  Then I realized that the one carrying the baggage too far was me not him.  I was already forgiven years ago for my part in things.  In due time and with lightness of heart I finally learned to let go of that other person too . . .

Who could ever imagine the hellish suffering of these past three years with my head banging to and fro day after day?  Literally, I mean, with a yet undiagnosed illness that has had too many pieces to keep track anymore.  Cries out for healing one thousand times have made little difference on the surface; it’s so easy to become discouraged, to give up in motionless brokenness of the worst kind.  “Who knows if the trials will ever end?” I often wonder when up late at night.  We cannot know much about tomorrow so we must move along in faith today.  For through faith, through Divine intervention, I have had enough grace once again to get me through yet another episode, another day.  And the smallest of sweetness has come that would have been missed had it come any other way.  So to the throne of grace with great expectation I do most definitely let my achy breaky heart go . . .

For who really knows when the Lover of my soul shall return in glory or to take me home?  When He comes for me I’m sure I will recognize His name, His face, His comfort from all the days I’ve seen each of these before.  I cannot afford to be discouraged or waste much time groaning the pangs of sorrow in this life when preparation is what is now due.  It is time for letting God direct my every word, my every task:  my thoughts held captive as an offering in love nothing else.

Oh how I do pray He comes soon to take me home to His mansion with many rooms and warm embrace!  Yet in the meantime, Gentle Reader, my Jesus directs me to keep my eyes on Him from here and the one step of the path (that’s all) in front of me as I go.  Yes, I must learn to let go of more than I ever dreamed I would need to and let it all slip through my hands to be free.  My happiness depends upon this for the lightness in my spirit that will carry me to the wondrous places in life you or I may ever go.  I trust that down the road a bit it will be truly beautiful and worth lightening the load a bit don’t you think?  JJ

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Staying true to our calling

I love staying connected with other Christians around the world through the newsletters that come in the mail from various organizations.  The December 2014 issue of PGM News (of the Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago, Illinois, USA) provided much inspiration and perspective that I needed before heading into 2015.  Here is a story quoted by PGM President, Philip Kwiatkowski in his column entitled, Staying True to Our Calling.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a little life-saving station.  The building was primitive and there was just one boat, but the members of the life-saving station were committed and kept a constant watch over the sea.

lighthouse in storm

When a ship went down, they unselfishly went out day or night to save the lost.  Because so many lives were saved by that station, it became famous.  Consequently, many people wanted to be associated with the station to give their time, talent, and money to support its important work.  New boats were bought, new crews were recruited, a formal training session was offered.

As the membership in the life-saving station grew, some of the members became unhappy that the building was so primitive and that the equipment was so outdated.  They wanted a better place to welcome the survivors pulled from the sea.  So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged and newly decorated building.

Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members.  They met regularly, and when they did, it was apparent how they loved one another.  They greeted each other, hugged each other, and shared with one another the events that had been going on in their lives.  But fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this for them.

About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought into the life-saving station boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, sick, and half-drowned people.  Some of them had black skin, and some had yellow skin.  Some could speak English well, and some could hardly speak it at all.  Some were first-class cabin passengers of the ship and some were the deck hands.  The beautiful meeting place became a place of chaos.  The plush carpets got dirty.  Some of the exquisite furniture got scratched.  So the property committee immediately had a shower built outside the house where the victim of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there was a rift in the membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities, for they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal fellowship of the members.  Other members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life-saving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all those various kinds of people who would be shipwrecked, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast.  And do you know what?  That is what they did.

As the years passed, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a place to meet regularly for fellowship, for committee meetings, and for special training sessions about their mission but few went out to the drowning people.  The drowning people were no longer welcomed in that new life-saving station.  So another life-saving station was funded further down the coast.

History continued to repeat itself.  And if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of adequate meeting places with ample parking and plush carpeting.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

Wedel, T. (October, 1953).  Ecumenical Review.  Paraphrased in Heaven Bound Living.  Stanton, K. (1989), pp. 99-101

Gentle Reader, I ask you the same question that I have asked myself after reading this story:  what is your calling today?  JJ

(For more on this subject, check out this brief article by Pastor John Piper.)