Have you heard the song from the Frozen soundtrack, “Let it go”? (I’m sure you have.) It’s sung at a crucial juncture in the movie where Queen Elsa walks away from her kingdom, and is finally able to be herself by performing the magic she had previously been forbidden from performing. But in that act, she shuts out everyone else for a life alone in her frozen palace.
I made my own palace where I thought I was “letting go” – my bedroom. That was my space. I went to the extent of keeping the door locked so no one could enter when I was in school/college.
When I was in that room, I could shut everyone else out, and do what I wanted to do. I could cry, laugh, scream, sleep . . . but in this little shrine I had built, I held on tightly to my past, letting old hurts and disappointments fuel the formation of my future.
When I was 17, I didn’t get into law school, because I just didn’t pass the entrance exams. I felt like a failure there, and I was struggling with other things. I shut it all inside of me. Instead of dealing with my emotions, I locked myself in. Into my shrine I also dragged hurts and grudges, harmful friendships, and some silly notions I had let deceive me!
It was only and purely by God’s grace that He shook me out of my frozen palace and placed me elsewhere, where He could crack my heart open and help me out!
When I look back now, I realize that there were certain friends and relationships which had misled me. This wasn’t the fault of the particular friend, but because of the value I had allowed those relationships to take in my life. One example . . . sometime in school I tasted my first beer. Did I do this on my own? No. But the choice to hang out with the crowd of people who introduced me to alcohol was all mine!
I had placed value on having "cool" friends and lost out on a lot of truth-telling friendships. Emily Lewis, recently wrote about “Truth Tellers” (you’ve got to read it if you haven’t). I had always chosen friends who were cool to be with and hang out with, but ran away from anyone who tried to be truthful with me. I managed to make two or three friends during that time (who are still my friends) that would be honest with me (one friend who was honest enough to tell me when I had to visit the parlour).
But in 2012, I hit rock bottom. I was at another crossroad and I had to make a choice. I had lost my last semester in college because of lack of attendance (again my choice -- a not-so-wise one to take an internship instead of going to college). I took 6 months as a break before going back to college . . . God took those 6 months to change me.
At that time I had to decide to filter out certain people from my life (this sounds a bit harsh, but it had to be done). I realised that I had to get rid of the so-called "cool" people, and keep the people who had told me the truth and helped me in my walk to get closer to God. At the time I wasn’t sure why it was needed, all I knew was that there were certain things distracting me and causing me to fall away from what I was sensing was a growth in knowledge and experience in my friendship and relationship with God and His bride, the Church.
In Mark 9:43-48 [NLT] Jesus says,
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.”
The truth is for me, my ambition, my “cool kid” friends, and some of my notions about life, were all parts of my earthly body that were causing me to sin. But thinking of Jesus, who was part of a perfect community with God and the Holy Spirit, who gave that up, who was cut off, so I could enter eternity, makes me rethink some of my choices. Why would I choose to hold onto hands, and feet, and eyes that cause me stumble and fall and lead me away from my God, who was willing to cut His son off, to be with me?
Does that mean that I am only friends with believers? No! I have both believing and unbelieving friends, but they don’t maim me from eternity. Rather, they spur me on and give me the space to grow in God. They all show me different aspects of God’s grace and love. I continue to love them, and continue to pray and hope that those who don’t share my worldview would experience the power of the Cross in their own way. I may be in this world, but I have to make choices that set me apart from it.
The truth is, letting go isn’t easy, but when I think of how much God the Father let go of, just so I could have access to Him, the Cross overpowers my sinful choices. Despite the good and bad choices I’ve made, the outcome is all because of God’s mercy, not my works or righteousness! I read this morning, that when Daniel found out about what God was going to do to the Israelites he prayed to God and appealed to Him.
This verse stood out for me in Daniel 9: 18 [NIV] –
“Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”
Daniel recognised that he had access to God not because of his or Israel’s righteousness, but because of God’s mercy. I have to remind myself of this – that I should have been cut off, the way Jesus speaks of cutting off a hand or eye that causes one to stumble. But it is in God’s divine mercy that he chose to cut Jesus off instead! It is in fact God’s mercy and the grace of the Cross that empowers me or anyone to cut off anything that causes stumbling.
With such beautiful mercy staring at me in the face, how can I but choose to let go of anything that causes me to look away?
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