Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.
I was once advised, whilst packing for a journey, that deciding what to leave behind was as important as choosing what to take. It was good advice. All change involves a ‘leaving behind’, be it the roles we identified with, relationships we valued, skills or knowledge now redundant, once cherished belongings, or a predictable routine.
Working as a coach with those whose roles have become redundant, I’ve recognised other, less tangible, hindrances to moving on: anger at management decisions or government policies; rejection when not chosen for a new role; bitterness at the way life has changed; and regrets or guilt over things said or done.
As many of us can testify, faith often matures most through disruptions to normal ways of thinking or being in the world, perhaps due to loss. But the transition journey that results from these disruptions will only lead to maturity if it takes us via the cross. Jesus’ sacrificial death provides the means by which we can ‘leave behind’ all that might weigh us down. At the cross we learn to forgive those who have wronged us; we are set free from unhelpful attachments to the past; we receive healing for our wounds, and comfort for our loss.
As David Benner writes, ‘Letting go is an important spiritual practice, but it is counterintuitive because the default posture of most of us is to clutch, not to release.’ To receive the new thing that God wants to give us we must create the space to receive it, which requires emptying out the old. And letting go requires trust – trust that the emptiness will be filled; trust that a new sense of purpose and direction will emerge; trust that day will follow night; and trust that, after death, there is resurrection. We walk by faith and not by sight, declaring: ‘praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.’
Our responsibility is to ‘end well’ – be that thanksgiving for what has been, expressed appreciation, or simply ensuring that everything is in order so others can find what they need. ‘Goodbye’ is a contraction of the phrase ‘God be with ye’. As we navigate the endings of our transition journey, may we leave with a blessing and know that God is with us – he has not been left behind!
Prayer Journeys Project Leader, LICC