We are serving people who are facing all kinds of challenges.
Recently on a retreat one man seemed to contradict the peaceful words that were being shared when he spoke out loud, “No. Everything is heavy. Everything is heavy.”
We had just read Matthew 11:28-30 and people were speaking out the phrases that were standing out to them. Things like “freely and lightly” and “Come to me”, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you” and “Get away with me…” Then this honest cry, “No. Everything is heavy.”
It was only at the coffee break that I began to understand the life situation this Grandpa was living through. In the moment during the session all I could say was something like, “Thank you for being honest. We are in this together and we’re going to listen together throughout this weekend.” Then I learned at the break that his granddaughter was dying of cancer and in the last stages of her 10 year-old life.
Heavy. Nothing free or light about his experience. Yet here he was on a retreat with other believers honestly bringing his pain and listening for God’s voice. And the Shepherd did not disappoint. In the midst of great pain, that Grandpa heard an invitation to let go; an invite to trust. His courageous response to trust inspired all of us.
People are consistently hearing this invitation to let go and trust. Thomas Kelley wrote about inviting people to “to be still and know, listen, hearken in quiet invitation to the promptings of the Divine. Our task is to encourage others first to let go, to cease striving, to give over this fevered effort of the self-sufficient religionist trying to please an external deity. Count on God knocking on the doors of time…”
In our work as we facilitate various retreats, I like to ask questions. One of my favorites is to ask “What are we being invited to?” The single word I hear most often lately is trust. People are hearing an invite to let go, to trust. Part of trusting is to give up control. Time in silence is helping people face their inclination to hold on and attempt to take care of things themselves rather than trust. We hold on to all kinds of things. Some of us are holding on to pain from past disappointments. Others unforgiveness or bitterness. And God is graciously inviting us all to let go.
The fruit of letting go is sometimes immediately evident. People walk away more peaceful and it makes sense because when we truly let go we are free. We don’t have to defend ourselves when accused. We don’t have to take responsibility to change others around us. We are free to trust. We are free to let God work in and around us in beautiful ways.
Am I holding to something God is asking me to let go of today?