Let Go And Let God

Cast all your burdens on the Lord,
because He cares for you. (I Pet. 5:7)

God has really taught me a lesson this past week. It was a lesson I really needed to learn, and like most lessons we really need to learn, it was painful. I don't like to have to go through painful things, but I am very thankful for this particular lesson. It is usually the hardest-learned lessons that will last; the ones that cause us pain are the ones that we tend to remember.

So what was this lesson that I need to learn so much that I had to suffer pain to learn it? I needed to learn to Let Go And Let God. I needed to learn to trust God to work out some problems, in His own perfect time, in His own perfect way. He will, you know. I know that, and so do you. So why do so many of us have such a hard time putting that knowledge into practice? Why do we feel compelled to "help" get the situation worked out? Why do we feel like we have to be doing something?

So many times we say we want God to deal with a situation in our lives, and we earnestly pray about it and turn it over to God. But for some unknown reason, we don't seem to be content to leave it in His more than capable hands. We take it back. We worry about it some more, and try new solutions, and when we fail again, we once again earnestly beseech Him in prayer, "Oh, Lord, please help me with this problem! Please, Lord, I need your help!"

We really need to listen to our own prayer. We need His help; He doesn't need ours! In fact, oftentimes there is nothing He can do in a situation until we release it completely. As long as we keep trying to fix it ourselves, He will sit back and let us wear ourselves out. And that's exactly what we do, isn't it? We wear ourselves out, trying to do something we were never able to do to begin with.

One of the greatest lessons in life we can ever learn comes from what is known as the "Serenity Prayer". It teaches us:

God, Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference."

We all have at least one or two difficult people in our lives that we have to deal with every day. They may be family members, or co-workers, or someone else close to us, and there is no way we can avoid them. And if we can't avoid them, don't most of us do everything we possibly can to change them? To change their outlook, their attitude, their response to us, or something else about them? And when we fail, as we most assuredly will, don't we then turn crying to God, and ask Him to change this person?

That's where the wisdom is needed. To learn the difference between the things we can change and those we cannot. Have you ever tried to tell someone something for their own good? Did they listen to you? Have you ever given someone good advice, that they really needed to hear? Did they heed your well intentioned advice? Have you ever once succeeded in changing someone else into what YOU thought they should be, or made them do what YOU thought they should do? Neither have I.

And do you know what? That's a good thing! It's good that I can't change other people. Only God can do that. Who am I, that I should be so arrogant as to think that I know what's best for someone else, when sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what's best for me? What does it take before I finally learn, once and for all, to "let go and let God"?

Is any human being smart enough and capable enough to change another human being? Aren't we all God's creation; isn't HE our Maker? Then why on earth do we think we can change someone else, or even that we have the right to try? Read that line again: "To accept the things I cannot change..... ".

When a person in our life is causing us a problem we need to accept that we cannot change that person. Sometimes we have to accept people, just the way they are. With all their flaws, all their blemishes, all their junk. Even when they are annoying, even when they have done something really stupid, even when they are giving us problems, we cannot change them. Only God can possibly do that. And He can only do it if we get out of the way, let go of the situation, and let Him work.

But you see the next line there? "The courage to change the things I can......". We cannot change other people, but we can certainly change our own reactions. When somebody does something to me, I can choose to respond in kind, (my way) or I can choose to respond in love, (God's way). I can choose to ignore them, or I can choose to try to get revenge. I can choose to use a light-hearted joke to diffuse the tension of the situation, or I can choose to add fuel to the fire by blowing up in anger myself. I have to have the courage to change the thing that I DO have the power to change. The one sure thing that I do have the power and ability to change is ME!

The problem usually is, the flesh wants to respond in kind. Especially when we are unfairly wronged. Especially when we have loads of "ammunition" to use against that person who has caused us hurt. We want to hurt back, don't we? We want revenge. Yet the Bible clearly says:

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Rom. 12:19)

It takes courage to change the way the flesh reacts. It takes courage to remain silent when we want to scream and shout at someone else's scheming or plotting. It takes courage, and the power of the Holy Spirit within us, to react in a loving way, when we have been wronged. It takes courage to show the love of Christ, instead of retaliating. Maybe that's why the Bible says;

"Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; Love keeps no record of wrongs; it doesn't keep score. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things."(I Cor. 13:4-7)

Do we have the courage to truly live those words? Or are they just meaningless platitudes, good for Sunday School only? Do we have the courage to crucify the flesh, and it's desire for revenge and retaliation? Do we have the courage to do what we know is right, even when someone else does wrong, and let God work things out in His own way, in His own time? Do we have the courage to simply trust God?

Here's the lesson I learned this past week, and I pray I will remember it the next time some situation comes up in my life. I pray I never forget the lesson I learned: If we ever do manage to let go of the flesh, and allow God the freedom to deal with the situation, He is faithful and will do just exactly what He says He will. Honest! And when we let God be God, and allow Him to do what only He can do, what a tremendous burden that takes from our shoulders!

Maybe that's what Jesus meant when He said: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free! (John 8:32) Hallelulia, and Praise the Lord! Thank you, Jesus!