Letting Go and Holding On
When I was about ten or eleven years old, I went with some of my friends to go swimming---in a "tank", as we called it. It was little more than a dug-out watering hole the cattle ranchers bulldozed out of the ground to take care of the drought problems that plagued the Texas flatlands.
Quite confident I had mastered swimming, I dove off into the middle of the tank and immediately went to the bottom. Little did I realize what I was doing, for the muddy silt had made the bottom pitch dark. Suddenly, I panicked. Which way was up? I had become disoriented and running out of air. What to do? Was I going to drown?
As this horrible predictament and resulting fear gripped my mind, suddenly I heard a voice: "Be still!" Every instinct was to DO SOMETHING, but I obeyed and gave up my struggle. And when I did, I felt my body start to rise. THAT had to be the way up! Deciding to quit my struggle and release myself from panic and fear, I gave it my all in that direction, and with lungs bursting for air, I came shooting to the surface! I never forgot this instance, and it has stood as a lesson well learned throughout my years:
The things I will not give up can literally cost me my life.
The more I study this, I can see why the Lord rebuked his disciples when the waves on the sea of Galilee terrified them. It was not to shame or condemn them, but to teach them this very same lesson. Holding onto fear would never produce faith. But how difficult I have found it to apply to my life at times. His Words so plainly tell me that I must release myself from the massive grip the world has on me for "all things to become new". For me to have victory, I must defeat and cast down every thought that is in contridiction to His Word. The foolishness of pursuing my own roads will only bring me into darkness and my stubborn refusal to come out of denial into His marvelous Light will only imprison me.
It begins very early in life. We are taught self-reliance as a virtue and that goals are the accumulation of "things". The things of this world attact us, and we yearn to have them for ourselves. We covet many things, and jealously guard our fortunes, each of us in a daily struggle to obtain and hold onto our dreams and enjoyment of life.
Yet it is not always material possessions that we hold onto. We hold onto bitterness and unforgiveness, to pride and vanity. Daily we desire to shape our own destinies and create our private world to satisfy our every craving. Many times we think, "if I can just possess this or that, I will be satisfied." But the things of this world never satisfy....and they will torment us as long as we hold them in our hands and refuse to let go.
How easy it is to justify the reasons for our fears: "Am I not sick? Am I not facing bankruptcy? Am I not dealing with an unhappy marriage, or with uncontrolled emotions?
I am now in my fourth battle with cancer--over a period of 30 years. God has marvelously delivered me in the past, and I have no reason to not expect Him to deliver me this time as well. But I know what my part requires: that I let go of my fears and apprehensions and take hold of His promises.
There is only one way out of every situation: "Be still, and know that I am God." The life of a successful Christian is not measured by the acculation of laurels and how much of the Bible they can preach or quote. It is how much of themselves they were able to release everything into His loving care. It is called Faith.
I have written about ships many times. There is a reason--I find them excellent lessons about life. Before every ship enters port waters, it cuts its engines and then is guided by tugs to a safe berth. The Captain may have ridden out horrifying storms on the high seas, but it is not his job to park the ship. He must let go of the helm and trust the tug master.
MARY E. ADAMS