many letting goes

“If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily "ours" but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes.” --Elisabeth Elliot

Without question, this year has been the hardest year of my life. I could write out a long string of words telling you about the countless hardships, but don't we all have such a list? I can tell you that it has ripped me open and scrapped out everything I thought was necessary for a happy life.

So then what is left? I have nothing but empty hands and a scrubbed heart.

And God comes closer, because He can do a work with those.

So when the words came last week that a job was over, a job I've both cherished and struggled against, a job that's grown me up and revealed both weakness and strength,my eyes bled out tears for hours and I looked to heaven and remembered promises.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:22-26 ESV)

These aren't careless words. They are very much full of care. These words don't confuse hardship. They illuminate it.

Does this truth makes the hardship any easier? Not really. I woke up this Monday morning afraid to open my eyes because I don't know what life is supposed to look like now. I sat at my kitchen table as the sunlight spilled all over the place and I opened up the Bible to the words above and just wept all over those holy pages. I'm letting go of something I've held onto for years.

But it's not just the letting go that frees us, it's the decision to hold on.

Holding white-knuckled onto promises such as these. Holding on for dear life because if these things aren't true, you aren't gonna make it. Holding on to nothing more and nothing less than a crazy notion of grace that promises to last despite dark nights and uneasy days.

He says it is "enough," this grace that is sufficient.

And while it is so uncomfortable, His grace covers even that.

He never forsakes us. If that is true, should I be afraid? If that is true, should I question why?

All these little deaths and all these letting goes are rearranging my heart into a place where Jesus can move as He wishes. My hands are empty, despite the dirt under my fingernails where I've tried to cling to earth and hold onto what passes away. Yet even in the moments when fear drops on my shoulders in the checkout line, even when my heart races right past peace, even when I feel misplaced or forgotten -- He finds me. He invites me again into the mission. He leads me beside still waters. He is with me.

Perhaps you are also in a hard place?

Perhaps you just heard words that left your world a little unsettled? Or perhaps the peace has been gone a long, long time?

Know this, my friend, all these sufferings and trials are gifts in disguise. Jesus does not stand far off from you; no, He reaches for you in the pain. Remember that He can spread a table in the wilderness. I'd love to pray for you.

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” -- John Piper