“Are we so noisy in our instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert.”
–Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
One of the most convicting, yet eye-opening, books I have ever read is the one quoted from above.
Lately, I’ve had to learn a lot about letting go. A year and a half ago, I was forced let go of a woman very dear to my heart and give her over to the gates of heaven. Within the time since, I’ve had to let go of my dreams, my plans for my life, and give them over to God to do with as He pleases. Recently, I had to let go of another person I loved….and am still in the process of letting go of the love itself.
One thing you learn about life after living it a little while is that it tends to repeat itself. My grandmother and I were talking just this week about people in our family whom she had had to release to the Lord and how doing so were some of the most difficult and painful experiences of her life.
Sometimes we have no choice but to let go because people die or walk away from us. Sometimes, we choose to let go of things that are destructive for us, even if for no other reason than that they are outside of God’s sovereign will for our lives. (Isn’t that a god enough reason, after all?)
And then sometimes, we have to walk the very awkward and challenging middle ground of letting go of a person while remaining in his or her life, such as is the case in Chambers’ suggestion. You can offer to and teach and prod a person, but ultimately the spirit of that person is God’s to lead and to shape.
I’m a pushy person and I have no trouble saying what I think ought to be said. This has gotten me into various troubles from time to time. Plenty of times my cautions turn into cruelties and I overstep my boundaries. But sometimes it’s not arrogance or power-tripping that leads me to “play amateur spiritual providence” as Chambers puts it. Most of the time, it’s a genuine concern for the person’s spirit and heart.
However good my intentions may be, though, Christ knows those waters infinitely better than I do. I may be able to offer some guidance, but I cannot do for anyone what He can. My main task as a Christian, as a friend, as a whatever, is not to speak to people until my lips fall off, but to speak to God on their behalf until He faithfully completes the work He began in them.
My grandfather taught my uncle to swim at five years old by throwing him off of a dock into a lake. “Sink or swim, son,” he said. Needless to say, he figured it out pretty quickly.
Sometimes, if you love someone, you have to let them go, and let God do what He must to teach them “in His own time, in His own way,” because “behind the frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.”
This is now the second time I have edited this, so for my email subscribers, I apologize if you are getting repeats, but I had to add this song. It’s the perfect complement to this topic, which we may continue at a later date.