Let Go and Let GOD
I was speaking to someone who did not know the story of Daniel, who was thrown into the lions' den and dramatically saved when God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6). We were discussing the fact that when God takes control, amazing things can happen – and I quoted Daniel. She said, “Surely it is not just a matter of sitting back and doing nothing. Why did Daniel not DO something instead of just letting God do it all?” I asked her what Daniel could have done in a lions’ den. “Oh!” she replied, “I did not realize he was in a den – I thought he was out in the fields and could have climbed a tree!” Maybe we all identify with that predicament at times, trying to understand the balance of “taking matters into our own hands” while on the other hand “letting God do it.”
There is no simple answer to handing over control of our lives and circumstances to Jesus – but there are some certainties. When we are tempted through our own insecurities and pain to control our lives, circumstances, and other people, life becomes strained, relationships fall apart, and we become restless.
Sadly, many of us who have been controlled by others build up resentment that leads to the temptation of asserting control over others in return. We do so in order to shield ourselves from further control and exploitation. At the end of the day, we still face frustration and disappointment that inevitably comes when this temptation is given into. When we realize that we cannot be “God,” that we cannot reign sovereign over every interaction and every circumstance, and surrender to the Lordship of Christ, life will be less stressful.
Trust is hard to achieve when we have been let down – but it is harder not to trust. Knowing the nature of God makes the temptations to “act on His behalf” fade into insignificance. He is God - who wants only our highest good and the good of those we love. Dependence on Him is easy when we know who He is: Creator of the universe, the King of all kings, Judge of all the earth, and Lamb of God who gave up everything so that we could have everything. As a Father loves and pities His children, so He loves and pities those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13).
Throughout the Bible we see many examples of God taking people in a direction they would never have chosen or thought possible. How silly it must have seemed to Joshua to march around a city (Joshua 6). And what about Gideon sending home the armies that would be his force to kill the enemy (Judges 7)? What made the difference to these two men? Why did they make decisions to follow what seemed to them counterproductive commands that could have put a whole nation in jeopardy, and hand over total control of the situation to God? Both Joshua and Gideon had an encounter with God that changed their lives – they knew that there was a God who could move, in circumstances and people, in ways that they could not. They knew He could turn fearful men into bold warriors and that He could take them through circumstances that they could never have walked through if they had fallen into the temptation to do it their way. They knew His voice and it rang with authority through their lives!
There have been many times when I have given into the temptation to take the lead and let Jesus be the one who follows – sometimes with catastrophic results and, at other times, with results that only will be seen in the light of eternity when I will see what could have been.
However, I have also seen time and again when I have given situations and relationships to Him – He is able to turn them around in ways that I could never have dreamed possible. Since the ages of about 9 and 11 years, my (now adult) children have traveled the nations as the Holy Spirit opened doors for our ministry and have grown in ways that I could never have foreseen. In this situation the temptation to “do it my way” was minimal as I had had no idea what to do! We did not follow the conventions of the education system or look for financial security and a home that we could call our own. We decided that we would put His call on our lives first and everything would bow to that.
Like Daniel, who would not bow to the society he lived in, we decided not to bow to the world’s values but follow a path where there was no model, no map to follow and no one to show the way. It had to be simple obedience to the voice of our Shepherd, which we had grown to know so well. If He was not in control we were going to end up in a mess!
We were criticized for taking risks that seemed crazy – but we kept listening, following, and saying “Yes” when he asked us to sacrifice; “Yes” when He asked us to go to yet another nation; and “Yes” when we had to walk away from relationships that are precious to us – and we have not been disappointed.
Maybe the secret is in knowing His voice and hearing a voice behind you saying, “This is the way – walk in it.”
Maybe some of the secret is in accepting that He is Sovereign and if our lives are handed over to Him, we can trust Him through any circumstance.
Maybe it is letting go of others and their will, and holding on to Him and embracing His will.
Maybe it is knowing that in every circumstance, if we let Him change us to be more like Him – we will always win.
Maybe it is understanding that His ways are not our ways, and letting go of our preconceived ideas and the pressures of our peers.
Maybe it is having more of an eye on eternity than on this world.
Maybe it is saying “yes” and taking a leap of faith knowing that underneath are the everlasting arms.