Summary: A pastoral care intervention sermon challenging God’s people in my care to exchange their desire to have control & comfort for faith in God’s promise to be with them.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Danny Cox, a former jet pilot turned business leader, tells his readers in Seize the Day that when jet fighters were first invented, they "flew much faster than their propeller predecessors. So pilot ejection became a more sophisticated process. Theoretically of course, all a pilot needed to do was push a button, clear the plane, then roll forward out of the seat so the parachute would open."
But there was a problem that popped up during testing. Some pilots, instead of letting go, would keep a grip on the seat. The parachute would remain trapped between the seat and the pilot’s back.
The engineers went back to the drawing board and came up with a solution. Cox writes:
“The new design called for a two-inch webbed strap. One end attached to the front edge of the seat, under the pilot. The other end attached to an electronic take-up reel behind the headrest. Two seconds after ejection, the electronic take-up reel would immediately take up the slack, and force the pilot forward out of his seat, thus freeing the parachute.”
Citation: Jim Davis, pastor, Silverdale, Washington; source: Danny Cox, Seize the Day: Seven Steps to Achieving the Extraordinary in an Ordinary World (Career Press, 1994) © 2000 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, Inc.
What’s wrong with this picture? Why would those pilots keep hanging on to their seats when they needed to let go in order to live?
Wait a minute, what about you and me? Can you think of a time in your life that left you hanging on when you should have let go? Probably – I think all of us have done it.
SO WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? HOW CAN WE KNOW WE’RE NOT LETTING GO WHEN WE SHOULD?
What kinds of feelings and emotions do you have when you encounter change in your life? Do changes leave you feeling insecure and out of control? When your circumstances become unlike anything you’ve ever expected, do you feel helpless and hurt? Do you feel deserted and alone when you’re surprised by something different in your life? If so, then you are probably hanging on when you need to let go.
Have you been feeling bitter and angry for no apparent reason? Have you been wondering about why you aren’t treated better? If you were really honest, would you have to say you’ve been pretty selfish lately? If so, then you are probably hanging on when you need to let go.
In your conversations, have you been demanding – seeking to have things done your way? Do you try to control the outcome of your decisions? Do you wish you could make choices for other people? If so, then you are probably hanging on when you need to let go.
ALL RIGHT THEN, WHAT’S THE DIAGNOSIS? WHY DO WE HANG ON WHEN WE SHOULD LET GO? AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE DON’T LET GO?
On the surface, this problem arises from a few inadequate assumptions about life. First of all, we tend believe life ought to flow smoothly from one day to the next without little or no interference. Then, we suppose that if something is right everyone (or at least the majority) will feel good about it. And sometimes we’re inclined to think that having faith in God will remove all the obstacles in life. Finally, we would like to measure God’s love by our comfort. But life isn’t like that is it? When your experiences prove these ideas wrong, your natural instinct is to hang on tight and not to let go.
Behind these inadequate assumptions, there is the desire to be comfortable and secure. This desire is a part of all humans, but some personalities are more inclined to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. Some childhood experiences, like the death of a parent, can amplify this desire for comfort and security. Even the disappointments and hurts you’ve experienced as an adult can drive you to seek more comfort and security. On top of all these things, the spiritual forces of evil can plant thoughts in your mind that might push you into hanging on when you need to let go.
But the root cause is deeper still. You and I insist on hanging on when we should let go because we don’t really trust God.
"We live under the illusion that if we can acquire complete control, we can understand God…. But the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord… is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control. For the opposite of sin is faith…."
Citation: Madeleine L’Engle in Walking on Water. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 4. © 2000 PreachingToday.com / Christianity Today, Inc.
If you and I never learn to let go, we’ll never feel close to God. We’ll never God working through us.