As a church employee and, I believe, trusted friend, I often have people tell me about their struggles, their pain, their darkness. As I looked around the church this morning, I realized once again that most of us think we’re the only ones fighting the darkness. “Yes,” we think, “other people may have their challenges, but their challenges aren’t as bad, as agonizing, as life-altering as mine.”
But they are.
This is an important fact to remember. Unless my neighbor has told me about her struggles, I have no idea what’s hiding behind her smile. Is she wondering if she dares trust that her husband will never have another affair? Is her mother dying of cancer, leaving her feeling like an abandoned child? Did she just lose her job right after buying a new car?
I don’t know. So…
I won’t judge her when she upsets me, because I DON’T know.
I won’t assume that her life is hunky dorey and no one is living through a hell as bad as mine, because lots of people ARE.
AND I WON’T GIVE UP HOPE.
As I looked around the sanctuary this morning, I saw many people who are even now fighting the darkness, but I also saw a room full of conquerors who have battled time and time again and, with God’s help, WON.
Can you plant a seed without letting it go? No.
Our church is coming up fast on a multi-layer event that raises money for our myriad missions and outreach programs, and a while back God led me to donate one of my newest and favorite possessions. I won’t lie; I choked for a moment, but I’ve learned through the years that God never calls me to give up something unless He has something better in mind, a purpose (or multiple purposes) for my actions. Besides, when you plant a seed you get a harvest – as the Bible says, thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.
So the other day I had a thought: “I could bid on it and get it back.” In that moment, I had an epiphany. I didn’t need to. I didn’t want to. I had completely let it go and didn’t even want it back. This revelation led to an interesting conversation with God.
Long story short. Years ago, I’d been called to give away one of my favorite things and I’d done it almost instantly, but begrudgingly. For years (not kidding) I’d had this niggling thought of, “Man, if only I’d not…” In our conversation, God reminded me about that event and pointed out that I HAD NEVER LET GO of that seed. Because I had never truly let go, the seed had never been truly planted – regardless of the fact that it was in the other person’s hands. So I had never received the harvest He had wanted me to have.
So… When God calls you to give something, be it to someone personally, to a ministry, to a charity auction…whatever, LET IT GO. Don’t judge how you think that person should handle it. Don’t dwell on the fact that you don’t have it any more. Don’t let regret hang around. LET. IT. GO.
You cannot plant a seed in the ground if you do not let it go first. You cannot plant a seed in ANY ground if you do not let it go first. And if you don’t have a planted seed you don’t have that seed’s intended harvest.
You reach for the door handle and it breaks. In that first instant you may think you’re stuck in your car with no way out. Of course, you realize quickly that you can roll down the window and open the door from the outside, or even slide over and exit on the passenger side. Either way, you do have an escape route.
When this happened today, it started me thinking or, rather, remembering. Waaaaay back in the olden days, before cordless phones and caller ID, when the phone rang so seldom that you always went running to catch it, my boyfriend and I were alone in the house and got a little carried away.
But EVERY time we went too far in the wrong direction, the phone rang, and EVERY time it rang the person on the other end hung up as soon as I answered. After the fourth or fifth time, we realized we were in danger of being late somewhere and I had the sense to insist on us rushing to get ready to leave.
It was some time after this that I discovered 1 Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (NKJV)
What happened that day was clearly God making a way of escape for me, and it is a lesson I have never forgotten. If I give in to temptation, it’s because I ignore the escape routes He has opened for me.