Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I have a friend who recently asked me, “How do you let go?” He’s had a very rough couple of years. It started with one event and it has snow-balled to the point that it has affected every area of his life. He no longer has an optimistic outlook on life. He’s waiting for the bottom to fall out again. You see, every time he thinks he’s hit rock bottom, something else happens and the bottom falls out. This one event has changed not just his life, but who he is. He struggles with bitterness and he’s holding on to resentment. He doesn’t need or want a shallow answer to his question.
I could only share what worked in my life when I had held on to that kind of pain. My catalytic event was different than his, but I recognized the pain and hopelessness in him. I know all too well the mental battle he is facing. It took years for me to let go even after I finally did hit rock bottom. Everything I did for the next few years was done out of a heart that was still holding on to the pain and trying prove that they had made a mistake. I wasn’t living for something. I was living against someone. There is no peace when you live like that.
It wasn’t until I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:15. He said, “If you refuse to forgive others, your Father (God) will not forgive your sins.” I couldn’t find peace in my life because I was holding on to bitterness and I wouldn’t forgive. I had to make the mental choice to forgive and to let it go. I had to go through a mindset change because for years I had let that control my thoughts and actions. When I finally let go, the Prince of Peace came in brought balance back to my life. Thoughts of anger and bitterness no longer controlled me. It was still a fight to keep them out though, so I had to be on constant guard against them.
When I did let go of the things that were holding me captive, I found that my hands were free to receive from God. I also noticed that my motives changed and my outlook did too. I was no longer bound to the mindset that bad things were just going to keep happening and I needed to put my head down and deal with if. I now had a source of peace in my life. When bad things happen now, I hold on to the Prince of Peace instead of the pain and bitterness that the situations could cause.
We each have that choice. We can let events define us and change us, or we can cling to the one who created us. I saw a quote the other day that said, “You won’t know the strength of the anchor until you feel the force of the storm.” Too many times we don’t trust the anchor so we let go of it when the storms come. Bitterness then becomes a sail on the mast of pain. The winds of life blow us around until we crash on the rocks. We have to consciously pull down that sail and cut down that mast because ultimately it’s our choice of what we hold on to. I have decided to put my trust in the anchor, the Prince of Peace, and hold onto it instead of my past.