Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Over the years Ray and I were married, I saw him pull up plants that were still flourishing to make way for the next season’s annuals. I was always appalled since I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to waste anything. Yet he knew the next season’s plants needed time to establish their roots and get acclimated before the harsher temperatures of the upcoming season arrived, be they summer’s highs or winter’s lows.
As I’ve become more knowledgeable horticulturally, I’ve realized Ray was right. I try to get my cool-season annuals placed in their beds at a reasonable time, even if it means pulling up still-blooming warm-season plants and vice versa. However, I apologize to the plants I’m pulling up and thank them for providing so much enjoyment across their respective season.
Strength or Weakness?
A wise friend pointed out that our strengths become weaknesses when pushed to extremes. I’m loyal and dedicated, a consummate Golden Retriever for those of you familiar with Gary Smalley and John Trent’s animal-based personality profiles. Furthermore, I’m not fond of change. The corporation I worked for had ten guiding principles, one of which was “embrace change.” I used to joke, “Me, embrace change? No, I run the other way!” And one of my longtime friends has dubbed me the least spontaneous person she knows. You get the picture.
Just as I hesitate to remove still-flowering plants from my garden, I find it difficult to let go of people or situations, even when it would be best to do so – loyal and dedicated, to a fault.
After experiencing months of tension at work and wondering if I should resign, my 30-year career ended when my employer eliminated my job. I’ve said on many occasions since that day eleven years ago I’d still be sitting in my cubical, working away, if God hadn’t made it abundantly clear that chapter of my life was over. What an incredible adventure I would have missed had He not lovingly slammed that door and sent me on my way. I went back to school to study horticulture and became a first-time grandmother within six months of losing my job. What a joyful – and humorous – combination of events!
Becoming gainfully unemployed is just one of many positive, life-changing examples I can look back on. So you’d think I’d be better at letting go by now. Sadly, that’s not the case. Probably because letting go feels too much like giving up or losing. Plus, there’s the fear of the unknown. Yet I have no doubt God always knows what’s next. He encourages us to forget the former things and to receive the new ones.
There are times when I’m so focused on the known and the present I can’t perceive anything beyond an underlying sense of disquiet beckoning me to move forward. Like the changing of the seasons triggers my overhaul of the seasonal color in my flower beds, God uses those stressors to prepare me to reach for what lies ahead.
Tentatively, I’ll let go with one hand while keeping a tight grip with the other. But God is able to do far more than I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), so isn’t it likely I’ll need both hands to receive whatever He wants to give? Being a patient and compassionate Father, He works to loosen my grip and enable me to embrace His plan – His good and perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11).
Similar to the scenario surrounding the loss of my job, my family is currently facing monumental changes, not of our choosing. Though it would be easy to blame the instigators, I know that apart from God’s will, they would have no power in the situation. Therefore, I have let go more quickly than usual, assured that what others may have meant for evil, God surely means for good (Genesis 50:20).
One of the benefits of growing older is amassing a mental file folder overflowing with examples of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I can share them with my children and grandchildren as they go through this season of testing, reminding them that letting go isn’t giving up or losing. It’s making way for the new.
Lord, You are in the business of making all things new, including Your children. Please help us to let go of what lies behind, yet never forget instances of your steadfast love as we press onward to You and our calling in Christ.
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