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Knowing When to Let Go

October 21, 2012

I wrote the following post on my Facebook page on October 13, 2007. I’m studying this passage of Scripture again so I revised it for this blog.

We have all experienced times when our past had too much influence in our present and future. We’ve  had friendships that led us down a path that brought anguish and heartache. We stayed too long in a romantic relationship that brought mental and emotional pain. We kept working in a job that no longer brought us joy or fulfillment. A loved one’s destructive choices weighed so heavy on our hearts that our worrying about them robbed our joy. At these times we are unable to let go of the very thing that is destroying us. We find ourselves having a hard time putting the past behind and moving on.

Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had this problem. When he moved to Sodom it was already known as a city where the men were “wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13). Lot settled his family there and began to assimilate into the culture. Sodom is used throughout scripture as an example of how corrupt a culture can become when they turn away from God and follow their own selfish pursuits. Lot should have left Sodom long before God decided to destroy the city because “their sin is exceedingly grave” (Gen. 18: 20).

We get a glimpse into why he had a hard time leaving Sodom in Genesis 13. Before Lot moved to Sodom, it is revealed that Abraham and Lot decided that their present location wasn’t big enough for both of their families. Abraham took Lot aside and told him to choose the land he wanted, and that Abraham would take the land Lot didn’t choose. Lot chose for himself the land that was well watered and fertile. Lot’s motives were self-serving. He wanted the best land even if it meant he would have to settle near Sodom. When we start making choices based on how it will serve our interests instead of how it will affect our relationship with God, we begin to separate ourselves from the very one who gives us the wisdom we need to make choices that will bring long-term contentment and satisfaction with our life.

This separation doesn’t come over-night. Casting Crowns’ song, “Slow Fade”,  speaks to this truth.  The group sings about the “slow fade” where “black and white turn to gray”. The song continues by saying that “people never crumble in a day”. A person doesn’t stop being obedient to the call of the Father in one moment. It starts with one wrong decision that is followed by another. These decisions build on each other and soon we find ourselves doing things we never thought we would.

Usually when we begin the “slow fade” we are surrounded by those who have never had a relationship with Jesus or who have begun to distance themselves from Him. Taking ourselves away from those who will be honest with us and hold us accountable when we begin to compromise make it easier for us hasten the “fade”. Sodom was such a wicked city that God couldn’t even find 10 righteous men (Gen. 18: 23-33). 2 Peter 2:7-8 tells us that “Lot was oppressed by the sensual conduct of men” and that his soul was “tormented day after day by their lawless deeds”. Lot was in great need of a friend that would tell him he was making poor choices and he needed to leave Sodom behind even if he lost some possessions, land, and social status.

Lot didn’t leave. He stayed too long. He and his family’s life was at stake but he became accustomed to his surroundings and wasn’t aware of the dangers that were all around. Abraham asked God not to destroy Lot when Sodom was swept away so God sent two angels to Sodom to get Lot’s family out of the city before God destroyed it. Lot’s future sons-in-law laughed at Lot when he told them of the impending destruction. Even Lot hesitated when it came to leave so the Angels literally had to take him by the hand and lead him, his wife, and two daughters out of the city. The angels gave them one warning: do not look back. You know what happens, Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

We don’t know exactly why she looked back but I have a few ideas. I know a few reasons why I have kept looking back. There were times when I really didn’t want to leave friends or situations that God was leading me away from. I was actually enjoying the relationships or the situations even though they were leading me further away from God. The pull of the world can be strong. God knows this. That is why there are times when He tells us to let go and not look back. He knows that even looking back keeps us involved in the very activities or relationships that He knows we must let go lest we begin the “slow fade”.

In Luke 17: 33, Jesus reminds us that, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” The bottom line is that we must be willing to let go of ANYTHING that gets in the way of our relationship with Him. If we stubbornly try to hold on to our life, we actually lose it. We become enslaved to sinful patterns that slowly choke out any real joy that God so desires for us to experience.

I am reminded in another song, this one sung by the David Crowder Band, that even though God sometimes calls us to let go of certain habits, relationships, worries, or sins, that God will never let go of us. Never. Our letting go of this life is really the only way to live life abundantly now and eternally.

*Scripture quoted from the New American Standard Bible

*Casting Crowns “Slow Fade” on The Altar and the Door CD

*David Crowder Band, “Never Let Go” on the Remedy CD

One Comment leave one →
  1. jamee permalink
    October 22, 2012 3:07 PM

    Oh how I wish I had read this in March of this year. Beautifully written, Jen.

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