About a month ago, I became aware that I needed to actively choose to release my parents to the path God has for them. I have a close friendship with my parents, and I had just watched them walk through the fire of serious illness. My sadness at not being able to do anything to help was emotionally heavy, hindering me from doing the things God had already called me to do. It was during that time that God revealed to me that nowhere in my purpose did He ask me to take on the responsibility – emotionally or practically – for my parents. He asked me to release them – in my heart – to follow the path He had planned for them. He asked me to focus on His plan for me.
What's your life look like? Do you have people or situations that weigh heavily on your heart, distracting you and sapping your energy and emotional strength?
Release is hard. It's not about throwing up our hands and saying, 'Well, fine. You go then. But don't come crying to me later...' Release is the act of stepping back and acknowledging that God's plan is far superior than mine.
Release is the decision to follow Jesus' command to stop thinking about the 'other' person, and simply focus on living our purpose, focusing on our friendship with God.
“Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved [John] following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what's going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what's that to you?
You – Follow me.”
Release puts space around our life, freeing us from the need to please others, from the need to seek others' approval. It creates a buffer zone in which we are solely interested in pleasing God.
“Because of that Cross [of Christ's crucifixion], I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns they dictate.”(Gal 6:15)
Release is about becoming self-sufficient in our friendship with Jesus, it's the maturity of balancing living alongside others, sharing our experiences, investing our hearts, yet having our relationship with Jesus be our foremost barometer and compass.
Actively practicing the art of release frees us to experience life in its spiritual context. Release is not about being 'right', rather, it is viewing our life and the lives of others, through a spiritual lens trained foremost on our friendship with God.
Is there a situation or person in your life that you need to release back to God? Are you worrying constantly, distracted from your purpose? Who benefits from you not fulfilling God's plan for your life?
Holy Spirit, I ask you to join me now. Please open my heart and my mind to those things that I need to release back to God. Dear Jesus, I ask that you soften me, help me to let go of those worries, fears, people and situations that are consuming the energy that needs to be focused on my friendship with You. I choose to release ______________ to the path You have for them, trusting that Your plans are good, far better than anything I could come up with.
Thank you God that you are in control.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Courtesy of Marie Prince, Pennsylvania
I received this letter from a neighbor who reads the devotional. In trying to maintain her 'voice', I have left it as she wrote it, other than some minor changes to improve the readability. I found it inspiring and encouraging - I hope you do as well!
Back in 1989 in the early spring I very lonely. For a young woman who was almost 21, I had no one to share my life and my faith. I had a job but lived at home.
Well, after having a hard time getting someone to date me I thought, 'I am going to pray about this.' I prayed one night and asked God -- “Please God, help me to find a wonderful man that is like me: hard of hearing, willing to go to church with me, and share a life with me.”
That June, I saw a man in town with a hearing aids on. I noticed how he was hanging out with the lady I babysat for. I asked her about him, but she didn't know who I was talking about. Then I found out his name was Ray, and again I asked her: “Do you know Ray?” Again she said no. I asked again a week later – I told her he wear hearing aids. “Oh! You mean BUSTER!” She said.
I laughed. “Buster? That's a funny nickname...” She jumped out of her chair, “Hey we gotta get you two to meet, He's perfect!”
In my mind I was like, 'That's just talk, it'll never happen...'
A few day later she called me, “Get down here now, I'm taking you over to meet him.”
I was so nervous around men, I just assumed he wouldn't like me. I dressed like a slob, expecting the worst. When I met him we sat down he showed me his new hearing aids he got and then he said he needed to get new boots for work. Of course I invited myself on his shopping trip, but told him I needed to rush home to change clothes.
We went to the mall and had pizza and that was our first date. Towards the end of July I invited him to attend church with me but told him, “You don't have to go”. The service was outdoors, and the first time he went he said he really liked the church and our pastor and ask if he could start going with me every Sunday! I was surprised he asked.
Then we started to date and that December we got engaged. A few years later we got married outdoors behind our church. I told him how I prayed for someone like him -- he said he was glad I did.
It was weird because we never knew each other, even though he lived over the hill from me. I must have rode my bike by his house many time when I was a teen. But he attended a deaf school and I want to a hearing school.
That's one great thing about God: How he found love for us to share in our christian life.
This month we'll be married for 19 years, together 22 years.
When I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go...
Song of Solomon 3:4 ASV
Is your soul hiding?
This weekend I was challenged with the thought: "In silence, our soul can come out of hiding."
Silence, Pastor Denny went on to say, creates a safe space for our soul to come out, for God to speak directly to the soul He created.
I talk and write quite a bit about being quiet, about the value of silence. These past few months I have practiced silence more than usual. A difficult situation arose that offered me two diverging paths: one, speak up and defend myself; or two, be silent and allow God to work.
And He did. He worked. He worked on ME.
As I continued my silence, deep maturing truths rose to the surface of my heart. I realized the truth that God has plans for some people that do not include me - and I must release them to follow their path. I lived the truth that all who follow Jesus to the deep, deep places of faith will at some point be stripped of all friends but for God Himself. I believed, for the first time, that God Himself is enough. Forgiveness, I learned first-hand, is not for someone else, but for me -- healing in my heart as I release the hurt and anger.
God used a difficult, heart-breaking situation to change not the other person, but me. He changed my perspective. He brought me to a place of realization - that even if I am truly alone in this world, Jesus is there and He knows what it feels like. That 'in quietness and confidence is your strength.' (Isaiah 30:15 NLT) -- He will give me strength and courage to continue on.
His promise is that 'joy comes in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). As I have waded through the terrifying reality of being alone, each millisecond seemed like years. But at the end of each moment, joy waited for me on the other side. True friendships shone so brightly I was literally speechless in gratitude. God restored the health of the ones I depend on the most - filling my basket again with loyal supporters. True forgiveness forged bonds stronger than I've ever experienced.
All brought about by the choice of silence.
Pastor Denny said it perfectly: The word absurd has its roots in the word 'deafness'. In actively practicing quietness, we hear the still, small voice of God - the sound of sheer silence. When we fill our lives with noise, we run the risk of living an absurd life, deaf to the sound of God's voice.
Better is a life of quietness, of peace in my heart, living with less; than a life full of wealth and 'success' accompanied by the soul-noise of anxiety and worry. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:6 (my revision)
What's the unseen in your life? In my life, the unseen is the time I need to write. I'm a wife, a mother, a farmer, a daughter, a sister, a mentor - all these things take up my time. And they're important. But last year I said to God, "God, I believe I'm supposed to write. If that's the case, will you have Nina (an author I'd communicated with twice on facebook) contact me and tell me that's the direction I should take?"
Two weeks later, Nina sent me a message: "Sorry this is so late! Two weeks ago I felt very strongly that God wanted me to tell you that you're supposed to write a book."
Um. Yeah, about faith...
So I do. I am. I will.
I write plain, truth-speaking articles, encouraging women to grow and be strong in their faith; looking for and experiencing the presence of Jesus in their heart and life.
"But when you proclaim His truth in everyday speech, you're letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience His presence with you."
(1 Corinthians 14:3 MSG)
( Courtesy of Jennifer Glosser, Salladasburg, PA)
"Aubrey is such a bright five year old," The assessor gushed. "It's amazing what she has picked up and learned all on her own! She'll have no trouble at all next year, we can't wait to see her again." Pausing, she thought for a moment. "Now, Brady... Well," she said brightly, "You have all summer to work with him, I'm sure by the time we see him in the fall he'll be all ready to go!"
"Thank you so much," Jen picked up the paperwork. Standing up from the pint sized desk, she attempted a brave smile. " I'll get to work with Brady."
"What a great job, you both did!" Walking out to the car, a twin holding each hand, Jen did her best to speak positively. "Aubrey, they're very excited to see you again in a few months, and Brady, they can't wait to see your great jumping skills again."
"I'm just so nervous!" Jen confided in her husband later that evening. All four children were tucked into bed and they sat in the living room, Jen's concern evident in her tone. "They said that Brady just isn't where he needs to be with his letters. How do I teach him those letters when he won't sit still, never mind focus, for one minute?"
The next morning, breakfast was cleared away and the children were playing with crafts at the table. "Brady, let's work on a letter today. Go ahead and pick one and we'll get to work on it." Young Brady tilted his head and surveyed the list before him seriously. Jen's heart sank at the blank look on his face. Just as discouragement was beginning to set in, Brady's eyes' lit up. "That one, Mamma!" He pointed to the page. "I know that one, it's just like Jesus on the cross! What's that one?"
The sense of an arm around her shoulder was tangible. Her heart lifted and she felt the encouragement pushing aside her concern. 'Don't worry,' her heart heard, 'He'll be fine, he's going to learn and he'll be just fine.'
Exhaling, she leaned forward and put her arm around Brady. "That's a T, honey. Let's try to write it..."
"You know, Rosalyn," Jen mused during our phone call, " When you asked me for a story of God showing his face in my life, I had no idea what I would tell you. But then I found myself thinking about it more, and when this happened I realized that I haven't been paying enough attention. But I want to, and from now on, I"ll be looking for Him in the little moments..."
"...if you seek God, your God, you'll be able to find him if you're serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul." Deuteronomy 4:29 MSG
"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." - God Jeremiah 29:13 MSG
"...Seek, and you'll find. Knock and the door will open." Luke 11:9
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)