By Melissa McLaughlin
One of the greatest gifts someone can give is the gift of letting go. When my husband and I were first married, we bought a fixer-upper home. The property was run down, the ramshackle house was lined with dingy green walls, the floors brittle and worn. But, oh how we loved that old place! Though it was hard work, it was rewarding work. Each night when we arrived home, we gobbled down a quick bite to eat and started right in working on home repairs and home maintenance. Removing wallpaper, spackling, sanding, painting, ripping up old flooring and putting down new. Tearing down old sheds and planting new trees. Removing old roofing materials and laying a new roof. New drywall, new windows, new doors, new plumbing, new fixtures. You name it, we tackled it. In all fairness, my husband was the actual repair person. I was an enthusiastic helper when possible and an innocent bystander when not possible, cheering him on with all my strength.
We poured so much blood, sweat, tears, money and sore muscles into that home and property. In time it became an extension of us, our personalities, our tastes and our very lives.
However, the time passed quickly and we soon welcomed our two precious daughters into the world. What unending joy flooded our hearts! The house truly became a home when little hands and feet scurried about filling the rooms with the sounds of laughter, Bible school songs and make-believe dances inspired by a combination of favorite animals and The Nutcracker ballet.
Before long, we realized this beloved home, in which we had expended so much of ourselves building and rebuilding, was not really well suited to raising children. We lived on a very busy street with cars zipping past at high speeds. Although our home was situated on a fair sized piece of property, the house itself was located just off the street. Unfortunately, adding to this dilemma was our isolation. There were no families or playmates any reasonable distance from our home.
After much prayer and deliberation, we decided to sell our home and purchase a home in a family-friendly neighborhood that would provide a safer place to play and easier connections with other families and children. So, we packed up and moved across town. The girls were excited to move as they did not have deep attachments to the house that we had grown to cherish through the memories held there. The day we moved, my husband and I carried mixed feelings, both delight and sadness, as we had to let go of something that represented a whole chapter of our lives never to be reopened again.
That was a gift we gave our children. The gift of letting go. The letting go of our work. The letting go of our memories. The letting go of our attachments.
The letting go however, provided our kids with a yard where they could run freely and not worry about high speed cars racing down our street. We enjoyed sweet times with our children in this new place. They could walk a short distance down the sidewalk and find a friend to play with. They could ride bikes, roller skate and pull their wagon back and forth in peaceful bliss. Here we also found the room to adopt our son and so expanded the joy of our hearts, our family and our home in ways we could not have imagined before. The letting go gave us blessings beyond our hopes. Letting go, though not easy, has a way of enlarging us.
Our experiences of letting go, however, are so small when compared to the letting go of Jesus.
We know that He laid down His life for us on the cross, where He paid the penalty for our sins with His own sinless life. We know that Jesus cried out to the Heavenly Father when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane awaiting this moment as we read His prayer in Matthew 26:36-39 – 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
From Bob Deffinbaugh of Bible.org we read, “No wonder our Lord was ‘sorrowful and troubled’ (Matthew 26:37), and His soul was ‘overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). Jesus’ agony was due to the cross which loomed before Him. He was not in agony because He would be forsaken by men, but that He would be forsaken and smitten by God. Jesus was dreading, suffering in the anticipation of His bearing of the sins of the world and the wrath of God which they deserved. This text tells us that because Jesus bore the wrath of God (the “cup,” as it were) in the sinner’s place, it is not necessary for men to drink this cup as well. Salvation comes when a person comes to faith in Christ as the One who was innocent, and yet died in their place, bearing the wrath of God which their sins deserved. Those who reject Christ and His atoning sacrifice must bear the wrath of God, which will be poured out on unbelievers in the future.”
Gratefully, Jesus, endured the cross, scorning its shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God! Hebrews 12:2
His suffering is our comfort. His bitter cup is our deliverance. His letting go and laying down is our salvation.
However, as we trace this line of suffering back even further, we realize that Jesus was willing to let go of not only His earthly life and His perfect sinless nature, but He also let go of His Godly form and His place in heaven to win us for heaven.
We see clearly from the Bible that Jesus was part of the Trinity, or Triune God, from before all time, explained here in Christianity.org, by Ray Prichard. In his article, Ray describes the Trinity based on the Calvary Memorial Church Articles of Faith as follows: We believe that the one God eternally exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that these three are one God, co-equal and co-eternal, having precisely the same nature and attributes, and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience.
Adding to this, Bible verses that are self-explanatory in this regard include:
John 8:58 – “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
John 14:11 – Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
When we visualize Jesus, side by side with the Father and Holy Spirit, in the heavenly realms in beauty, power and majesty beyond all of our understanding, we cannot imagine letting go of such eternal goodness and pleasure in order to save us. He hid His deity, wrapped Himself in a cloak of humanity and walked among the dust, sweat, blood, tears, sorrow and pain of this world to show us what God is like.
Philippians 2:5-11 – In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus’ first act of letting go was leaving the glory of those heavenly realms and the sweet intimacy with His loving Father. Though Jesus was fully God and fully man, His first act of letting go also included giving up His God-form or God-likeness for us.
Considering all Jesus has done for us, what might we let go for Him? Are we attached to things of this world that hold us back from our most important attachment, Jesus? Are there relationships that are holding us back from God? Are there materials possessions that are hindering our closeness with the Father? Are we spending time in jobs, ministries, hobbies or opportunities that are not fully aligned with His Word or are not His highest calling for us?
Jesus did not cling to heaven.
Jesus let go of heaven to win us for heaven.
Jesus did not cling to the form of His Godliness.
Jesus gave up His heavenly form to be Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus did not cling to His power or rightful righteous heavenly place.
Jesus hung on the cross, bearing our sin and shame.
Jesus let it go.
Yet with all this, mankind still clings to its earthly riches.
Lord, have mercy on us. Help us let go.
Please join me in prayer that we relinquish ever more of our hearts, minds and lives to Christ, yielding every ounce of the resources we have been given. Our heart, soul, mind and strength. Our health, money, home, time, relationships, opportunities, skills.
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise Your name for You are holy, sovereign, powerful and true. We thank you for Jesus and His great letting go. We thank you for the letting go He demonstrated by coming to earth and the letting go of His earthly life, carrying the cross, bearing the weight of our sins and suffering the righteous wrath that was our due. As we gaze upon Jesus, the Champion of our souls, we invite your Holy Spirit to reveal to us places where we need to let go of our hold on this life that we may grasp onto You more tightly instead. Draw our thinking, draw our hearts, draw our wills ever closer to You through Your Word, the Bible, through the beauty of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Melinda V. Iman writes many inspirational books and articles to strengthen and deepen your faith and understanding of Christ. In this article, No One But Jesus Would Do This by Melinda V. Inman, she adds scriptural background to the many layers of Jesus’ sacrifices. Read and be blessed!