When we are born, we all enroll in the school of “letting go,” but most of us don’t realize it! As we go through life’s stages, we naturally attach ourselves to people, places and possessions but as life goes on, we must learn to “let go” of one stage in order to take hold of the opportunities in another stage. Like a trapeze artist, we must let go of one bar in order to take hold of the next bar that swings by. But, letting go is not easy… because it involves LOSS!
Make no mistake about it, the circumstances of life will naturally enroll us in a series of courses in the school of letting go! Babies must learn to let go of pacifiers; children and youth must learn to let go of favorite teachers; college students must let go of depending on their parents; married couples must let go of independence; and parents must let go of their children…again…and again! Ultimately, we must learn to let go of everything in our life… the lives of our closest loved ones…and then… our own life…before we die. What are you in the process of letting go of…right now?
For followers of Jesus, enrolling in “the school of letting go” presents us with a magnificent opportunity to “major” in putting our trust in Jesus. Just as James and John had to let go of their nets, and their father, Zebedee, so we must learn to let go of the “false gods” in which we place our trust…like insurance policies, investments, people, places and “ the familiar.” As we experience the normal changes and losses of life, the curriculum in the school of letting go becomes more rigorous and we have an opportunity to learn to place our trust in God… alone!
This is a valuable lesson for pastors to remember, and to teach to our congregations. Exposing the false gods of our lives is tricky. “Seemingly good things” can become a false god! This is why pastors who want to help their congregations mature in faith can find ourselves meeting incredibly strong resistance! When I was a pastor in New York City, our elders wanted to focus on discipleship. We knew that if we wanted to change from being a “membership church” to a “disciple making church” that we needed gifted Bible teachers like Charlie to teach in our new “Center for Christian Studies.” The problem was that Charlie had a loyal following of 20 students in a Bible class that he taught every single Sunday. When I asked Charlie to “let go” of his class so that he could teach hundreds of people in the Center, his students were mad at me! Letting go of his class was not easy for Charlie and his students! However, as we looked back on it we realized that this one change motivated many more people to study the Bible and that had a life-changing impact on the spiritual maturity of our congregation. This would never have happened had Charlie not “let go” of his Bible class.
What do we have to let go of so something new can be born? Letting go isn’t easy but it is the road to Christian maturity…and to trusting Jesus!