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The Relief of Letting Go

The Relief of Letting Go

If you love anything at all in this world more than God, you will crush that object under the weight of your expectations, and it will eventually break your heart. ~ Timothy Keller, prayer

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a mother. I pictured a house full of children, family holidays filled with laughter and traditions, photo albums filled with school pictures, family vacations, and momentous events. This desire influenced where I chose to attend college and how I built a career. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my dreams of family. Which is in large part why finding out I had cancer while I still had young children at home wrecked me. I looked at my children and couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on their lives.

What pained me the most, though, was the very real possibility that I could die, and then someone else would take my place as my children’s mother. I didn’t want anyone else to play wife to my husband or mom to my children. That was my job. And the fact that I might not be around to fulfill it haunted me. As a result, I tried to hang on to them more tightly. Of course, the tighter you cling to people, the more they resent it. What felt like love to me felt like a stranglehold to them.

This is often the case with more than just people.

  • Try to grasp love, and you’ll lose it. Reach for affirmation and attention, and they will remain elusive. Try to seek financial success, and you’ll miss out on it. Hold it all loosely, though, and you just might find what you were looking for.

In 1857, a twenty-year-old businessman surrendered to God. Although not rich by human standards, he had a solid head for business and desired success. But on his twentieth birthday, he came to a deep awareness of God’s reality and determined to surrender it all to Him, including his dreams of personal and financial success.

On that particular day, Thomas Maclellan penned a prayer releasing his dreams and plans to the will of Christ. This radical relinquishment is difficult to do at any stage in life, even for those who have followed Jesus for decades. But it’s hard to imagine a twenty-year-old aspiring businessman releasing his future and pending success so fully into the hands of his God. And yet this is what Thomas Maclellan did.

“To Thy direction also, I resign myself and all that I have to be disposed of by Thee as Thou shalt see fit. To Thee I leave the management of all events and desire that Thou enable me to say, without reserve, not my will but Thine be done. Knowing that Thou governest all things wisely and will ever do that which is best for me.”1 This is only a small section of the covenant he penned. But it provides a glimpse of his relinquishment of those things he would, otherwise, be tempted to cling to.

Fast-forward more than a hundred and fifty years and Thomas’s covenantal prayer has multiplied into the Maclellan Foundation and more than $600 million in total donations. One man’s willingness to give himself to the will of God has now become generations of men, women, and dollars reinvested in the kingdom. All because one man was willing to let go.2

There’s a story told in the gospel books of Mark and Luke about a poor widow who came to the temple to give her offering (Mark 12:41– 44; Luke 21:1–4). Moments before, Jesus had issued a warning against the teachers of the law, blasting them for their displays of religiosity while “devour[ing] widows’ houses.” They aimed for fame, grasping for attention and recognition. But they failed to see those who needed them most of all.

Against that backdrop, a widow entered the temple along with a crowd of worshipers with offerings. Many deposited huge sums, making quite a show with the sound of their gifts. But the widow offered a couple of coins, an amount so small that no one noticed. Her contribution couldn’t possibly make a difference. It was less than nothing.

Jesus noticed:

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on. — Mark 12:43–44)

Whether your gift is money or ministry, it is possible to give large amounts without giving anything at all. And it is possible to give little and yet give everything. The widow did what so many others find difficult: she held nothing back. Proving that God Himself was indeed her truest treasure, she relinquished all of her earthly riches. And in the end, she left far richer than the rest.

This is the gift of letting go, of relinquishing all we have, even our lives, to a God who sees. Your sacrifice matters, no matter how big or small. Trust Him with it and watch as your faith grows in the giving.

Five-Minute Faith Builder

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. — Galatians 2:20

Much like the widow with her two coins, Thomas Maclellan relinquished his life to his God in a prayer on his twentieth birthday.

“Consecrate all that I am and all that I have, the faculties of my mind, the members of my body, my worldly possessions, my time, and my influence over others, all to be used entirely for Thy glory and resolutely employed in obedience to Thy commands as long as Thou continuest me in life.”3

Read this section of his prayer one more time, and highlight any words or phrases that are meaningful to you. Then find a quiet place, absent of distraction, and pray Thomas’s prayer aloud, releasing your life into the hands of the God who loves you more than all others.

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy. — Jude 24

1.“Our Covenant,”,

2.“Our History,”,

3.Thomas Maclellan, “A Wholehearted Covenant,” Renovaré,

Excerpted with permission from A Faith That Will Not Fail by Michele Cushatt, copyright Michele Cushatt.

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Your Turn

Let’s get real, sisters. Is there anything — anything — that we hold more dearly than we hold Jesus? Our families or children? Our community or friends? Anything that sits in the place that only God belongs in will ultimately destroy us. It happens every time. Nothing can bear the weight of that place of adoration except the One who deserves it. ~ Devotionals Daily