Let Go and Let God

Let go and let God….. (God is in control)

 

Our Old Testament readings give us lovely images of God the Maker. From Psalm 139, God knitting the psalmist together in his mother’s womb, weaving him or her out of the common elements of the earth, forming, creating, making. And then, from Jeremiah, God as potter shaping the pot at the wheel; sometimes having to re-make the pot because it doesn’t come out quite right.

What do you make with your hands?

David – music

Yaa – dressmaking

Self – breadmaking

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What is the process like? How do you feel about what you have made?

 

What the Bible encourages us to do is to see ourselves as a work in progress in the hands of God, and just to let God take charge and do what God wants with us. Is that how your life feels to you?

Here is a piece of plasticine to have in your hands as we reflect. Play with it, make something if you want to; but the real point is to get a feel for how God deals with us, holding us in his hands, warming us shaping us, remaking us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes that’s lovely for us, and sometimes it’s hard. In the psalm, it’s a cause for wonder, associated with motherhood and the security of the womb. Why are we as we are? Because that’s the way God made us, knitted us, wove, each of us, as we came to be; and that’s perfect, and beautiful, and we can give thanks and draw close to God.

In the Jeremiah story, there’s a threat. Jeremiah is holding up a mirror to the faithlessness and corruption of Israel, and God gives him the image of the potter. If the pot doesn’t turn out the right shape, it’s squished and squashed into a ball and the potter starts again. If you are not turning out the way God wants, says Jeremiah, God will squish you and squash you and make something else. Don’t get too set in your ways, don’t get too attached to being one way or another. In the end, we have to let God and let go. In the end, it is God who is in control.

Similarly, in St Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul is ever so gently re-shaping the way Philemon thinks. ‘I know this isn’t the way people normally do things, he says; normally a runaway slave is punished, not welcomed back with open arms. But in the Christian community things are a bit different. We are all God’s slaves and all God’s heirs. So I want you to take him back without reproach. I could make this an order, but because I love you I am instead reasoning with you, tenderly’. We are all Philemon in one way or another, needing a reshaping of heart and mind about something. Thank God for the gentleness of his hands as he transforms us day by day and year by year.

So, to Jesus’ words from Luke. We have to be prepare to love God more than the very dearest thing in our life, he says. (What does he mean about hating? – a note on hyperbole). We have to be prepared to suffer and to die. We have to know the full cost of discipleship in advance. That may sound as if it calls for us to be very much in control of our lives, with everything planned, weighed, counted. No! It calls for us to be soft putty, like the clay in the potter’s hands. It calls for us to let God grow us in ways we can’t anticipate, like the baby in the womb. We can’t accept the cost of discipleship – it’s too much for us – until we surrender everything to God, until we surrender all that we have and do but, most of all, all that we are, our very being, our sense of who we are and where we are going.  Once God is in the driving seat, we can cope with anything he asks of us; without that, everything is just too much. Jesus is not asking us to do more, but to let go and let him take charge. That is what we were made for.

 

So, how do we let go and let God? Anybody got any experience of this? (In pairs and together).

 

Sometimes God forces surrender on us. We are very stubborn creatures, who hang on for dear life to what we think ought to be going on. So for lots of people it’s when we reach rock bottom, when we realise we actually don’t have control over our lives, when a failure or a tragedy makes us reassess everything that we make that life-giving surrender to God. I think I have talked of my own experience of a deep bereavement which felt like falling, falling, falling over many months to the bottom of a deep cliff – and there was God at the very bottom. In the Twelve Steps movement (Alcoholics Anonymous and its sister organisations) the first two steps are:

  • admitting that one cannot control one’s alcoholism, addiction or compulsion;
  • recognizing a higher powerthat can give strength;

 

I think we churchgoing Christians have a lot to learn from this.

 

But we don’t have to wait to be forced by God to surrender. We can look for God, call on God, pursue God every moment of our daily lives. It’s simply, really, a question of asking God ‘Where are you in this’ about everything that we do, everything that happens to us. So, when we experience failure or tragedy, asking God to show us the good thing that is in this for us, the way it is re-shaping our life in his beautiful way. And when we are on top of the world, thanking God and not taking our happiness for granted and offering it back to him to purify and bless. And, in the ordinary times, looking for God in our daily experiences, the difficult relationships a well as the easy ones, the hard and boring and lonely times as well as the times of fulfilment; the times when we feel inadequate as well as the times we may be quite pleased with ourselves, and acknowledging, asking God to shape us in God’s way, and to do it whatever the cost, whatever the pain.

 

 

This doesn’t just happen; we need to be intentional about it and we need to put it first.  Pray – at least every day! Read the bible and seek to apply it to your life. Be in church and expect church to be relevant to what you do every day. Review your life routinely to bring it in line with the will of God. Ask God to grow in you the lovely virtues of love, and peace, and patience, and generosity and courage, and selflessness. And be ready, alongside God your maker, to face new challenges and opportunities as they come to you.

 

What’s happened with your plasticine?

 

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I invite you to take it home and continue to play with it (or work with it) and, as you do so, remember how God is reshaping you, gently, in his own hands, to be thankful and to give yourself up joyfully to the process.

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