The Letting Go (Part 1)

For me fall represents the season of change; the season of letting go.  The arrival of autumn in our speck of the world begins when the Canada geese fly above the fields in their captivating formation and honk to signify their arrival.  Their long, arduous flight from the north causes them to lay-over in our Mid-Atlantic cornfields until the next stretch of their journey begins.

The Monarchs, too, make portions of our garden their summer home but only long enough to morph into a new creature and migrate to their new South of the Border home. 

Our field crops, which started as minute seeds in the chill of the spring, irrigated and nurtured through the sweltering heat of the July sun now stand tall and ready for the fall harvest.  The combine clips the crops and runs the harvest through the auger filling the grain truck; we are blessed in the harvest.  The cycle is complete.

Change surrounds us.

My six year old and I are reading E.B White’s beloved novel Charlotte’s Web (I refuse to categorize it as a children’s novel because this grown up girl loves the book). For the sake of his young readers (and the grown up ones too), White weaves with words a delicate explanation regarding the passing of time.  The passing of time often brings about change and change requires a measure of letting go. 
The novel details the passing from one season to another. The letting go of summer brings about a sad change for the crickets on Zuckerman’s Pennsylvania farm.  The crickets croon their somber melody because the season of warmth and sunshine is ending; they dread the change, as do most of us, especially children:

 The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song.  ‘Summer is over and gone,’ they sang.  ‘Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying’.
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year—the days when summer is changing into fall—-the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”

Change and letting go ought to come as no surprise to me as a follower of Christ. The moment I yielded to Christ I changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).  Even so, I still treat change as an uninvited guest who shows up on my porch when my house looks like Hurricane Ida swept through, and I haven’t a clue what I am having for dinner (do I even have enough clean plates?).

By now, as a follower of Christ when I feel change coming about, I ought to belt out a tune of worship rather than one of melancholy.  My tune ought to sound something like this:

(Click above to listen and be blessed )
Hillsong Worship
We recently hatched Monarch butterflies.  After gently capturing the caterpillars, we created a habitat so that the creature could thrive and go through the stages of metamorphosis in captivity. Weeks of watching the caterpillar endure the God intended changes brought heightened anticipation, would a butterfly really emerge safely from the paper thin chrysalis?  More days followed as the chrysalis hung loosely from the container and it almost seemed impossible in such a cramped, seemingly unsuitable position that such a miracle could take place.  We calculated what we thought would be the hour of emergence. We moved the container to the kitchen table; after all this time, we were going to witness this moment in nature.  Within forty five minutes of setting the container on the table, without anyone watching, the Monarch broke out of its temporary dwelling and rested its soft wings on a branch.  After several hours, the wings hardened and we opened the hatch to let the butterfly go.
The Letting Go of Children
And so it is with my children; my husband and I created a safe, nurturing environment filled with unconditional love and respect.  And what seemed like overnight, my children morph into adults, and it is then that the letting go begins.  Years before, heart strings began to stretch; a bit like walking hand in hand with a child and she pulls ahead without actually letting go.  Her hand clasped in mine, the two of us strolling along, her looking back knowing that I am just footsteps behind. Releasing her is like the Monarch whose wings are ready for that first flight. Letting go can take them to far- away places where the Lord cleared a spot in an impoverished country full of children who hunger for the Bread of Life and the Living Water.
Hannah’s sacred example in I Samuel serves me well, but she is a tough act to follow.  As a mother, I labor and toil in the raising of my children for the glory of the Lord; yet, the season has come when I begin to prepare my heart to let another go so that she can follow her calling.
Like Hannah, the weaning has come. Throughout the seasons of motherhood, my husband and I partnered with the Lord in plowing the soil of the hearts of my children; oftentimes, we labored to break through fallow, hard encrusted soil so that when the seed was sown it landed on fertile ground.  Every stage of motherhood brings new challenges to the soil, some seasons called for pushing the plow to the ground so hard that our hands blistered with emotional fatigue and our heart ached with discouragement.  Then the season to let go and let God do his sovereign work came so quickly, too quickly, now that I look back. 
In some areas of my life, I am still trying to welcome the uninvited guest named “letting go.”

There are moments when I am still letting go of the children that I never had the chance to embrace.  Miscarriage has its own set of rules for letting go.  It’s a gut-wrenching, savage-like pain that wraps its tendrils around the heart and tries to suffocate any chance of hope.  For me, the letting go of despair and anguish took the passing of several seasons before I realized Jesus knew how badly it hurt.  The Son of God when near death asked His Father, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).  Finally, late one fall a time came when I no longer felt like I was falling from a cliff into the abyss, but I found myself falling into the arms of God.  Gradually I rappelled back to solid ground where I could once again lift up holy hand and worship the One, True God.  

“If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily “ours” but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves.
 “If God gave it to me,” we say, “its mine. I can do what I want with it.” No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of – if we want to find our true selves, if we want real life, if our hearts are set on glory.”  Elisabeth Elliot

Autumn will end and the snow will dust the bleak fields.  The barren, frozen pasture will be an unwelcome sight to my sheep.  Temperatures will drop and the water in the troughs will freeze.  We all wait for spring.  Each season brings a new perspective and new growth in the life of a Christian.  Fall brought a letting go, and with that came a sense of freedom in knowing that Jesus has it all in control.


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