Don't Stop on Six, Part 1: Let It Go
I'm kinda stealing this title from one of my favorite sermons by a certain local pastor, Steven Furtick. This message ministered to me greatly, in particular from October 2013 - June 2014. I was re-reading through some notes and thought they would encourage someone else today.
This is taken from the story of Joshua in the Bible from the book of, um, Joshua. At this point, the Israelites have already been delivered from Egypt with the help of Moses and have been wandering in the wilderness for the past forty years while the Lord got them ready for their Promised Land.
And now they're at the edge of the Promised Land, only the Jordan River separating them from a past marked by hundreds of years of slavery and a future flowing with milk and honey. The Jordan River, an iconic biblical symbol representing change - nearly every time a person or group of people crossed over this body of water it signified something New was happening. So Joshua, the new leader, prophet and general, leads this group of wandering soldiers across the Jordan River and into the new land. It is finally time! God said "Go Get Your Promised Land!
Oh, but wait - not before we do a fun little exercise on letting go. Ready? Tell everyone to get circumcised before we go any further into claiming the Good Life." Ouch. Painful. And oh so symbolic.
What is your Promised Land? Do you have an idea of "Abundant Living," promises from God or hopes for your future? Have you felt like it's always just out of your reach? There you are at the edge of Change, you can see your Future, but there seems to be something preventing you from fully stepping into it and claiming it. Is it possible, as it was with the Israelites, that there is something in your own life that you need to let go?
Circumcision was a ritual symbolizing they were a new people, set apart for one God. Their physical bodies couldn't revert back to a pre-circumcised state once they performed this little surgery - and it was representative that their spiritual bodies shouldn't either. God had claimed them, delivered them from bondage and now it was time to experience the Abundant, Wide Open Land of Freedom - He wanted them to step into it, not head backwards towards the lifestyle of slavery they had known. He wanted them to go forward with Him as their God, not under the false gods of Egypt. They couldn't act like the soldiers and victors God knew they needed to be once they entered into the Promised Land if they kept on believing and acting like they were slaves. Circumcision reminded them they needed to let go of their past in order to step into their future.
And it wasn't that God was asking them to sacrifice parts of themselves in order to be worthy of the Promised Land. Sometimes we think we need to perform better or sacrifice our dearest treasures in order to appease God and be acceptable in His sights for Him to bless us. This is not at all the heart of God towards us or what He wants from us. In fact, it's nearly always about what He wants for us. The Israelites needed to embrace their identity - they were Free people Loved by God. God had some radical plans and blessings ready for them but they were going to have to step into it and follow Him and they were only going to be able to do that if they understood who He was and who they were. They couldn't hang on to their past identities.
What do you need to let go of in this season? Is there anything that is holding you back from launching you into a new season of abundant living and freedom? Hebrews 12:1 says, "...let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
What sin or lie about yourself is weighing you down that you need to release so you can move into your Promised Land God has waiting for you? Trust me, I know this can.be.hard. Remember how I mentioned 2014 was a year of letting go of some of my greatest fears? Uh, yeah. But at some point, the longing and believing in the Good Life outweighs the fear that keeps you just outside of it. You throw all your weight in with God and let go of anything else that keeps you out: fears, temptations, desires, regrets, your past, people, jobs, whatever.
When the Israelites finished, they camped the night and had Passover. They rested and they focused their eyes on Jesus. Follow their example during this transition time, this time between turning away from one season of life and heading into a new one. Or between one pattern of behavior and another. Focus your whole self on Jesus. Camp out in the Word. When Joshua was in the middle of his transition, right there between the Jordan and the edge of Jericho, God sent His angelic army commander to him. Joshua wasn't alone. God is with you in your place of transition too.
And then "God's army commander ordered Joshua, 'Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy.'" (Josh 5:15) If God has led you to a season of transition, and you embrace it with Him, it will change from a fearful experience to a holy experience. Get ready - because a whole new part of your world is about to expand with more life than you could have even imagined!
Next post, Part 2: Round and Round