Releasing Our Grip

Who do you depend on?

Most everyone that calls themselves a Christian says “God” because they know that is the right answer. But is it really a truthful answer?

The one thing I find that an easy life breeds is dependence upon self. We don’t really have to depend upon God if we have our physical needs met, our relationships in order, and all aspects of our lives going just as planned. While we enjoy those times, it takes much more effort to be intentional and purposeful at keeping our focus on God and to remember that we rely on Him for even our very breath. Oh, don’t get me wrong–we can most certainly glorify God and grow in the good times. But it’s when we are forced to release our {supposed} control on our lives that the reality of our Christian life has the opportunity to shine with authenticity and to confirm our claims that we depend on God.

There is an old Christmas movie that ends with a little girl in great distress running out of the house and climbing up a tree to one of the top branches. The branch she is holding on to cracks and she knows she is going to fall. The man of the house comes running out and stands beneath the tree with his arms outstretched as he promises to catch her.

“Let go, Zoe,” he says, “you can trust me.”

Zoe closes her eyes, releases her grip, and, screaming all the way down, lands in the strong arms of the man.

In a way, this reminds me of our relationship with God. We are holding on to the world. So. Tightly. And we are doing fine. Even better than fine. Some of us even make a comfortable nest in the tree, not recognizing the frailty of the branch that is holding us. And then the wind starts to howl. Sometimes we can see the storm on the horizon and we have time to prepare or sometimes it comes without any warning at all. But, no matter how it comes, we end up with a cracked branch. And, suddenly, we are forced to recognize our vulnerable state. But right below us is our Heavenly Father with outstretched arms, coaxing us to release our grip and promising to catch us.

All of our failures, our broken relationships, the hard times–God uses each one to release our grip on this world just a little bit more. Some of them send us falling into His safe and strong arms. At least for a little while. But then, if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves scurrying right back up into that tree that represents all of the things of this temporal world.

The other day at the store, the cashier started talking about the state of this world. I sensed that she knew the Lord and I had the opportunity to enjoy a short conversation with her, in which I tried to encourage her with the reminder that none of this is outside of the Lord’s control. She smiled and said, “you are sure right about that,” and then went on to share with me how the Lord had taken such amazing care of her and her husband through the death of her son and then subsequent illness of her husband that brought with it an inability to work. She smiled as she said it and I could see that the Lord had indeed been faithful to her and her family.

But this conversation was a good reminder for both of us, I think. If our grip is tight on this world, then the state of it and where it’s headed is absolutely terrifying. And if our grip is tight on this world, then the changes and the diseases and deaths of those we love not only gets us down but they can potentially shipwreck our faith or, at the very least, eliminate our effectiveness for God’s Kingdom.

Only eternal perspective yields peace.

God has really been working on me in this area. I have so far to go. He graciously continues to teach me that my joy and peace cannot be grounded in the precarious, worldly branch of my choosing but that I must be grounded in the immutable and immovable love of the Father, trusting in His Sovereignty.

As life changes over the years I can feel that, little by little, God is releasing my grip on this world. I think He does this for all believers throughout the course of their lives. Each one of us faces trials and challenges. They are all different for each one of us, but none of us is exempt. Our branches sway and sometimes break and it forces us to fall into the arms of the Father. Most of us keep climbing back into that tree over and over again.

But with each sway in the wind and with each fall, our grip grows just a little looser on the things of this world and it changes how we view things, reminding us of what will really last for eternity. This change in perspective gives us a greater passion for the lost while giving us peace and joy for our soul as we rest in God’s sovereign care for both ourselves and for those we love.

This is a lifelong process–recognizing the reality of our vulnerable, powerless state and the great love and care that we find in God alone. We humans naturally tend to rely on ourselves for our own needs until we are forced not to.

Thankfully, our God is so merciful and His marvelous grace covers our treks up that tree and our subsequent falls when the branch just keeps breaking. His love is not fickle or temporary but remains constant even as we fail. And that is something for which we can be incredibly grateful.

 

4 thoughts on “Releasing Our Grip”

  1. Really beautifully written. I am up in that tree all to often, finding that I am a slow learner, and grateful that God is patient.

  2. I am so thankful that the Lord is long suffering. As I was reading this I just kept thinking I’m in that tree way too often. What a great visual you shared to get your point across. I’m going to use it as a reminder to jump from the branch every day! I really love and appreciate your blog, Leslie. Keep these great posts coming :)

    Kristen

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