Let It Go from the Disney movie Frozen has to one of the most popular songs for children in the last decade that is still played frequently today. In this song the main character, Elsa, lets go of things that had kept her in isolation, and experiences the feeling of freedom as she releases the past and listens to who she really is, rather than who people wanted her to be.
Although a secular song, the concept of letting stuff go in life is an important key to growth and personal freedom. This is very true in the spiritual realm.
In Hebrews 12:1 Paul writes….” Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Have you tried running with a heavy backpack on your back or wearing clothes that are more suited for a wedding than running a race? Progress is hindered and the energy that we expend is slowed down by the extra clothing and baggage we are carrying.
As Christians we take on board things that God never intended for us to carry and one of the key strategies of satan is to weigh us down with burdens that Jesus took when He died for us. Initially we aren’t aware that we are carrying additional things as they start small as a seed, and grow over time. The growth process is so subtle that often carrying extra baggage around feels normal.
However our spiritual growth and freedom can be hindered when we begin carrying additional things that weigh us down and distract us from running the race God has for us.
Let’s look at some areas of our life that hinder our faith and that we need to let go in order to fulfill the ultimate purpose and destiny that God has for us.
We cannot change the past, but if we are not careful the past can affect our present.
There are two major ways that the past can hinder our spiritual growth.
Firstly by comparing the past with our present reality.
It is easy to look back at the past with rose coloured glasses and wish we were back in the ‘good old days’. Living in the past will stop you fully living in the present. You can to go back, only forward. However if our focus is more on looking back at the past and wishing it back again, we can miss what God wants to do now.
Secondly : by carrying our negative experiences into the present and future
Hanging on to the negative experiences of the past does not serve us. The pain and the hurts we have experienced will have negative impact on life in the ‘now’ if we continue to carry them into the life we live today.
We all experience negative situations and circumstances –that is normal and we have no control over that. We do have control over how we respond to those negative and painful experiences.
The Bible warns that resentment and bitterness can bring trouble to our lives. Harbouring unforgiveness to those who have caused pain and hurt in life creates a chain that holds us to that situation and person. The Bible teaches over and over again that forgiveness sets us free to move on. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the situation or person was right, but when we let it go through forgiveness we are released to move on and not be chained to the past, that situation or that person.
Unfortunately unforgiveness opens a door to satan to come in and build a stronghold that becomes our prison.
Nelson Mandela understood this truth
“Former president Bill Clinton has become a close friend of Nelson Mandela. He says he once asked Mandela: “I watched you walk down that dirt road to freedom. Now, when you were walking down there, and you realized how long you had been in their prison, didn’t you hate them [white people] then? Didn’t you feel some hatred?” “Mandela said, ‘Yes, I did a little bit.’ Then he said, ‘As I felt the anger rising up, I thought to myself, `They have already had you for 27 years. And if you keep hating them, they’ll have you again.’ And I said, `I want to be free. And so I let it go. I let it go.’”
Likewise we need to forgive, let it go and move on so we do not allow bitterness and resentment to imprison us.
From the verse mentioned above it is clear that sin can cause us to stumble and fall in our walk with God. We all sin, and the Bible tells us that it is important to confess our sin and allow God to forgive and cleanse us (1John 1:8-9) Once we have confessed our sin and received Gods forgiveness we need to let it go and with God’s help move on. Psalm 103 v 12 tells us God removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. God does not treat us as our sin deserves. Satan on the other hand is known to be the ‘accuser of the brethren, and he will always be in our mind reminding us of our sin and making us wallow in guilt and condemnation. Guilt and condemnation will prevent you from living in the freedom from sin that Jesus died to give you. ‘ if the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed‘ (John 8:36) Let go of guilt and condemnation and choose to stand on the promises found in God’s Word. It is not about what you have or have not done , but is all about God’s grace which He freely bestows on us if we will accept it.
Self Defeating Behaviours
We all have behaviours and thought patterns that do not serve us in our desire for spiritual and personal growth and freedom. There are far too many self defeating behaviours to name them all here and they vary for everyone in their strength and intensity from severe addictive habits to negative thoughts that limit actions and relationships.
These patterns and behaviours usually have their roots in pain and hurts from our past, whether it be from our childhood or experiences we have had as adults – usually both – none of us are immune. We are born into a sinful world, to imperfect parents and interact with broken and wounded people most of the time. Inevitably hurt people hurt people!
As human beings we are born with needs and a strong desire to have our needs met to avoid discomfort. When there is brokenness and wounds in our lives we can become so needy that our behaviour and way we relate to others becomes focused on getting those needs met. This can lead to unhealthy unbalanced relationships.
God is the only one who can truly meet our deepest needs and heal the wounds in our hearts. When we look to people and not God to meet needs of love, acceptance, and self worth we can (often unknowing) find ourselves behaving in ways that try to get those needs met. That might look like using control, or allowing others to control, adopting people pleasing behaviours or using emotional manipulation to get the love and acceptance we crave. We have to let go looking to people, circumstances and possessions to meet our needs and look to God.
Moving into a New Season
For many people change is not easy, yet change is inevitable if new growth is to happen. Trees lose their leaves in the fall to pave the way for new growth in the spring. When God is bringing you into a new season, you will need to let go of the old to be able to experience the new.
“If God has been removing things out of your life, He is purging to make room for something new. This process of letting go can be difficult, but don’t worry, you will not suffer lack. He will always replace it, or become it, He will fill the void! God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. -Philippians 4:19 Trust Him.”
Letting go is not easy. It takes courage and inner conviction to make new choices. Nothing is impossible with God. When God challenges you to face an area of your life that is hindering your walk with Him, He will provide you with what you need to let go.
In the last few days a song by Theo Bessem has been playing in my mind – the chorus goes “I’m going to let go and God do a work in my life” That sums it up! Humanly speaking, everything within us resists letting go, especially when it takes us out of our comfort zone into unfamiliar territory. Letting go brings up our fears and insecurities and it takes a step of faith and an act of our will to take that step and trust that God has all in control.
Are you wishing for change in your life? Do you keep hitting the same wall, or feel like you are going round the same mountain? Maybe there is something or someone you need to forgive and let go to enable you to move on. Don’t put it off any longer – make the change you need to move forward into all God has for you!