Lenten Devotion - day 2
I hope considering forgiveness yesterday helped you to experience the Divine more clearly. Today I wanted to share something with you that has been on my heart recently: letting go. Letting go isn’t easy, but it is a necessary part of our spiritual journey.
In life, as we go along, we pick up a lot baggage. It begins when we are kids, figuring out how to live. Some grow self-conscious, some angry, some prideful, but in reality, we all pick up a little of all of this. Then we grow up and the world tells us a billion things that we can be or do, and soon we are full; full-scheduled, full of stuff, full of work, but never fulfilled. Certainly there are those who believe the rat race fills them, but you and I know better. We feel that deep longing that nothing in this world can fill.
That longing is for Reality of course, for what is really Real, and not this make-believe world that tells us if just have enough in the bank we will be okay. Saint Augustine once said something like, “Our hearts and restless until they find their rest in you O Lord.” Say what you will about the old saint, he was right about that.
And that is why you were looking for a daily devotion for Lent, because your heart is restless and is looking for God. So I offer this to you, let go. Let go of what doesn’t serve you in your search. Let go of the desire for stuff that doesn’t fulfill but fills up your time, energy, and space. Let go of your meetings, and television watching, and make space for growth and renewal.
I know you remember the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” as it is most often called. My favorite version is in Mark 10:17-27. The story goes that a wealthy man went up to Jesus and asked him what he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to follow the commandments. The fellow said he had done all of them since he was a youth. But even that didn’t fulfill him. He knew he was missing something.
So, Jesus told him (and Jesus loved him says Mark), “You’re only missing one last thing. Sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.” But the man couldn’t let go of his wealth. He turned and went away sad, and Jesus said that famous line, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!… It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Questions of wealth aside (although I think that would make for an interesting conversation), what Jesus is getting at here is that it is impossible for someone to experience God when they have other gods they hold onto dearly.
Some hold onto gods of wealth, some rage, some lust, some self-righteousness, but most of us hold onto a little of them all. We have to let go of all of them. Maybe you wonder how that is possible at all. Well don’t forget what Jesus said at the end of that story, “For people this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
It’s a little ironic I know. God is the only one who can help us let go of what keeps us from God. Long ago I heard about a pastor who prayed with his hands open. For years he did this and one day a teenager in the congregation asked him why. He said, “I used to pray with clenched fists, demanding justice, demanding what is right, but then one day I opened my hands and God took from me all that I was holding onto that made me self-righteous and angry. Now I keep them open for God to take what I shouldn’t have, and to receive whatever God has to give me.”
We have to let go so we can receive. I am learning to do this too. It isn’t easy. However, if you’d like to try I recommend praying with open hands, so that God will take whatever it is that is holding you back and fill you with wonder and beauty that you cannot imagine. If you figure it out, share it with me please, we are on this journey together after all.
Until tomorrow my friend,