“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:25 (NLT)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 (ESV)
“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:4-6 (NIV)
Something God is putting on my heart this week in an intense way is letting go. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I am in a crazy place of faith, a place where I am committed to giving everything to God, leaving all the lies and prisons that this world has fooled me into believing as truth, and choosing to follow God’s path for purpose in my life. Let me tell you, since I given my all to him, in a way I’ve never really dared to before, things have gotten INSANE.
Everything around me seems to be crumbling (see The Wave), and I am honestly terrified. God is asking me to purge some sin in my life that has been infecting the good things he has for me. Great, no problem! Except that in purging the sin, I have to let go of some things that were meant to be good as well. See, I let sin infiltrate some things that, while originally brought into my life by God, are now tainted and damaged by a slow deadly disease-sin. Now, in order to let God restore what I have damaged, in order to start fresh and live in obedience, I have to let go of all of it, the good and the bad. Does that make sense?
As I have been praying and worrying over this, God gave me two images. One is a little gory so I’ll go with the nice one first.
The first image he impressed on me was a flowering tree. In order to for me blossom, I need to let him trim some of the branches. Some are diseased, and need to be removed to make way for healthy new growth. These are areas in which I have allowed sin to stunt the growth. God allowed these branches to bud, but as I allowed sin in my life, the buds began to wither, and the disease has begun to not only kill off this one branch, but is also infecting other areas of the tree, keeping me from blossoming entirely. He is asking me to let him trim the diseased parts of the tree, which means that those dying buds need to go too. I don’t want him to cut off the buds, I am afraid to give them up. I see what could have been, and I want to hold on to that. But he showed me that when he cuts off the diseased branches, it allows him to breathe new life into those areas. They will no longer be withering petals, remnants of what could have been. Instead there will be an abundance of growth, more than there ever would have been, even before the disease set in, because now, I am letting him have complete control over the care of the tree. I am handing him the shears.
The other image was a woman holding a baby, trying desperately to nurse it, but the baby was already dead. (Told you it was gory) The woman kept believing she could bring life back into the child, but the child had died from a disease that she herself is infected with, sin. The disease ultimately killed the child, yet she continues to keep trying to give it life with the same diseased milk. God stands before her gently asking her to hand him the child-only he has the power to give this child life, only he has the cure. But she is afraid. She is afraid that if she hands him the baby, he will take it from her forever. She knows she is sick, and needs to get well. She knows she must let go of the child to experience healing. She knows that she is dooming the baby to permanent death by holding on to it, but she is afraid to let go. She knows there is a possibility that it is too late.
There are some things in my life that I know were intended for good, to bring joy and growth in my life. But I was disobedient, and ultimately, allowed sin to infect those good things, that “baby”. I believe God wants to heal me and rid me of the effects of sin. I believe he wants to heal the baby, breath new life into it. I also know that healing, that breath of new life, it requires me letting go. It requires faith. It requires a miracle. And it requires me to hand the child over to Christ, with the knowledge that I may very well be giving up the child forever. It may be too late.
What I’ve come to realize is that I just have to let go. No matter what, holding on to dead things will never incur growth. Yes, by handing Christ the shears, by giving the child back to him, it means there is a chance we may lose what we are gripping so tightly. We may have to say goodbye.
But there is also a chance that, in ridding our lives of sin, in removing the disease, God will breathe new life into what we give him. When we let go, we give him the ability to heal, to bless those things.
In any case, whether we are given a second chance in those areas or not, by allowing God to remove them, we are also allowing for growth in other areas of our lives. So, to break it down, (breaking it down for me, not you. I think in equations, and have to over simplify everything for it to stick. So sorry!) if we hold on to that which God is asking us to let go of, we can be 100% sure that it will die. We can also be 100% sure that other things in our life will begin to die too. We do not have the power to bring life to that which is dead.
On the other hand, if we let go, if we give God the things we hold dear, there is at the very least a 50% chance that he will breathe new life into those dead things. And if that is not his plan, there is still a 100% chance that in removing the death and disease from our lives, he will make our lives bloom like never before. Guaranteed.
So, I don’t know about you, but mathematically speaking, it makes much more sense to let go and choose a 100% chance of blessing and growth, as opposed to holding on and insuring a 100% chance of guaranteed death and complete loss. And that possible 50% chance of new life, new growth…hold on to that! Have faith and believe. If God gave it to you in the first place, I think he would love to see you give it back to him with complete trust, and watch him restore it, and make it even more beautiful than it was to begin with. Because that is the kind of God we serve! A God who loves to take our meager rags of sacrifice, our mustard seeds of faith, and turn them into awe-inspiring masterpieces.
What might you be holding onto that God is asking you trust him with? I encourage you to give it to him today. Let him heal and create something new from the dead areas of your life. It may look scary, but remember, 100% chance of blessing. It will be worth it, I promise!