The more I care about something, the harder it is to let it go. I remember feeling this way in college. I was able to let go and trust God with easy stuff, like how I might do on a test. But when I prayed about finding the woman I was to marry, I tried to control everything. Deep down I thought that God might mess it up somehow. So I needed to take over. But in the end, I was the one who messed things up. By grace, God still lead me to the right person at the right time, in spite of myself. God did this in such a way that I knew I couldn't take the credit for it. Letting go is never easy, but it is something we must learn to do if we are to experience the gifts of God's grace.
Check out this story of letting go in Mark 2:3-12:
"Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Did you see it? All the letting go the paralyzed man had to do? For starters, he had to let go and trust that his friends really knew what they were doing. Especially when they decided to dig through someone's roof, damaging their house. He must have thought, "How am I going to pay for this?!" He also had to let go of his doubt. I'm sure he had real questions about whether Jesus actually had the power to heal his paralysis. And very likely, he was struggling with these doubts even once he was lowered into the presence of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus acted "when he saw their faith." This is a beautiful reminder of the power of praying for others. Sometimes God works in your life because of the faith of your friends.
But then Jesus shocks this man by saying "Your sins are forgiven." Of all the things that he thought Jesus might say, this was the most unexpected. And yet, it was exactly what he needed. Very likely, it was this man's sin that caused him to be paralyzed. We don't know for sure. But I can imagine that he beat himself daily for the choices he had made that harmed his body in this way. And now Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven." And the man finally lets go. He lets go of the past. He lets go of his sin. He lets go of all of his attempts to "fix" his situation. At that moment his soul was healed. It felt so good, that I doubt he even cared whether he would take another step or not.
But Jesus wasn't finished with him yet. And this is a reminder that the gospel doesn't end with forgiveness of past sins. There is more that Jesus offers. He says to the man, "Get up." And he has one final thing to let go of. He is asked by Jesus to let go of his self-concept. He is commanded to let go of the label he has placed on his own forehead. The label reads "cursed" and "cripple" and "I can't do it." And in just two words, Jesus challenges all of those labels. Jesus offers the man a new opportunity. More than that, a new life! But he has to let go of these labels that he has lived with for so many years. That's the only way he will ever experience the new life that Jesus offers. And he does. And in so doing, he accepts the responsibility that comes with new life and new labels. He is now "blessed, capable and empowered."
I would invite you this week to let go. Trust whatever Jesus has in mind for you. Refuse to hang onto outdated and unhelpful labels about yourself. Know with certainty that you are forgiven, blessed, and empowered to live your best life by God's grace.
May you enjoy the freedom and joy that result from letting go this week.