How to Have a Full-filling 2018

The Secret is Letting Go

The good life does not mean getting more but means letting go. True spirituality has more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. This is the teaching of Jesus, His Apostles and Church, and all saints throughout the ages. It’s only in modern Christianity that prosperity, gain, and success have been made part of the gospel. It’s the poor that are blessed while it’s almost impossible for the rich to enter the Kingdom. How has the Christian life and its teachings gotten so messed up? 

Here is a powerful truth that can change your life…

All great spirituality is about letting go. Instead we have made it be about taking in, attaining, performing, winning, and succeeding. Spirituality has become a show we perform for ourselves, which God does not need. True spirituality mirrors the paradox of life itself. It trains us in both detachment and attachment, detachment from the passing so we can attach to the substantial. But if you do not acquire good training in detachment, you may attach to all the wrong things, especially your own self-image and its desire for security. Self-interest becomes very well disguised, often passing for religion. Richard Rohr in Adam’s Return, p. 5

God let go. He let go of His heavenly position, took on flesh, coming to earth to live and die and live again. St. Paul writes about His self-emptying in Philippians 2 – “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing [a prize] to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus Christ did not hold tight to all the glories of heaven but released them emptying himself to take on the nature of a human being.

You and I are to have this same mindset – letting go of everything deemed significant, becoming nothing, so we might become truly human in Christ. 

Bible Examples of Detachment 

Every godly Bible character and every saint has lived a life of detachment. They willingly gave up family, lands, possessions, wealth, ideas about God, friends, country, and even physical life to gain what God willed for them. 

  • Moses let go of an excuse – “I cannot speak” – to do God’s bidding. 
  • Abraham let go of his native land to go to a country he did not know but God did. 
  • Ruth let go of her Moabite culture and followed Naomi to new life in Bethlehem, marriage to Boaz, and motherhood to the grandfather of King David. 
  • Mary willingly became the fleshly home of God, devoting every fiber of her being to the Son of God. 
  • All the Apostles let go of their vocations and families to follow Jesus. 
  • Peter let go of his understanding of Christ’s crucifixion and of a Jews-only gospel. 

The examples are endless. The core activity in our relationship with God is letting go. 

God or Me?

Does God detach stuff from you or do you do it? Like all of the Christian life, it is a synergistic, cooperative effort between God and you. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing especially when it comes to ridding yourself of your attachments. 

In our church youth group in the late 60’s, with all the sincerity a 13-year-old could muster, I’d sing these words…

Treasures

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift your empty hands to Me!”

So I held my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full!

Author: Martha Snell Nicholson

 

It is true that fingers clenched around our obsessions, addictions, and attachments prevent God from filling us with His treasures. However, we must open our hands. He does not force those attachments from us without our cooperation. We’re in this emptying process together. That’s what makes detachment even possible. He invites and enables us to empty our hands before He invites us to lift them to Him. 

New Year’s Resolutions in the Light – Detachment

Why not apply these ideas to your New Year’s resolutions as you approach 2018? What attachment might God be asking you to detach from this year?

Here are some areas to consider…

  • Certain theological ideas
  • Divisive political views 
  • Crusty Attitudes
  • Unrealistic dreams for yourself or someone you love
  • Unwarranted opinions about people and ideas
  • Harmful behaviors and habits
  • Subtle love of money or wealth
  • Need for recognition 
  • Demand to control and/or to manipulate people or events
  • Toxic emotions like anger, anxiety or fear 

A unique detachment takes the form of forgiveness. Forgiveness means letting go of the desire for payback, justice, revenge, or punishment. According to Dr. R.T. Kendall, author and pastor, a key component of forgiveness is releasing the bitterness in your heart concerning what a person has done to you (Total Forgiveness, p. 8). Forgiveness is about letting go. 

It is heartbreaking when a Christian stubbornly holds on to beliefs, habits, opinions, wealth or possessions, and feelings unwilling even to consider the harmful spiritual effects these attachments have on their own life and their relationship with God.

Though not a one of us is exempt from attachments, we fear letting them go. 

The challenge is to take time now to evaluate and begin cutting yourself free of harmful attachments. 

2018 Detach – Attach: A Personal Challenge

For me, it’s sugar. I’m addicted to sugar. I have a visceral attachment to sugar that makes candy, sugared cereal, sodas, and cookies almost irresistible. This is not primarily a health issue but a spiritual one. I want to see if I can experience God’s grace and power in the midst of my addiction to sugar so that the result is self-control, a fruit of the Spirit. Detach from sugar; attach to self-control. Seems small and simple, huh?!?  I don’t think so. 

Due to writing this post, I’ve already started detaching from sugar. Good grief! As I walk through the grocery store, every sugary item shouts at me: “Buy me!” “Eat me!” “I’m so delicious!”  Leave it to me to start doing this right at Christmas time. Sometimes I wonder if I’m insane. 

“Let sugar go by the grace of God” is my 2018 “mantra.”  Please pray for me as I go through withdrawal. 

What will you “let go” in 2018?

If you are concerned about your relationship with God this coming year, there will be something He’ll invite you to release. Cooperate with Him. Face your fear of letting go. Find His grace sufficient. Experience a result that makes you more like Jesus. 

Share below what you’ll detach from this coming year. If you do, I commit to pray for you and your struggle to detach. 

Dr. K 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “How to Have a Full-filling 2018

  1. Hi Dr K,
    Thanks so much for your posts. I am with you in the sugar addiction. So all-encompassing. Twice a month, I go to spiritually accompany women in a residential addiction recovery program – the Changing Lives Center of the Phoenix Rescue Mission. I recognize that my addiction/control issues with sugar are no different. And the ability to stop… Like my inability to save myself. A spiritual issue. A fruit/ gift of the Spirit- self control. I will pray for you and appreciate your prayers for me.
    Joy to the world! Our Savior is born!
    LuAnn
    Thanks for “let sugar go by the grace of God “

    • Hey LuAnn. Thank you for your prayers. I think they are working as I enter 2018. I will pray for you as well. It’s amazing what controls us and what we try to control. We need God’s life in us so badly!! Thank you for sharing your life with us. May sugar, and all our controlling issues, find their proper place in our lives this year by the grace of God. Thanks be to God! Dr. K

  2. WOW! I guess I should not bring my frozen strawberry banana salad tonight. Seriously, the most freeing feeling I ever had was when Larry and I downsized and got rid of all our excess “stuff” so I know that feeling well.

    • Hi Brenda. The strawberry dessert was delicious!! Thank you for contributing to my struggle :-). I have way too much excess stuff. I’m in the process of cleaning out my library. Books are another addiction from which I’m seeking to free myself. Thank you for engaging the UnCommon Journey. And thanks for a lovely evening. May 2018 be your best year ever. Keith

  3. Ouch! When someone speaks truth, it just hits straight to the heart. I’ve been realizing that part, (a large part) of my problem is that my life is too good. I got up this morning after sleeping in a nice bed with soft sheets. The house was not warm enough to my liking. I simply pushed a button to warm it up. Went into the kitchen and poured a cup of hot coffee that was made in about a minute. Sat on my nice couch and at my leisure decide if I should turn on my entertainment box, or read God’s word. Do I really desire heaven? Not really sure.

    You can tell that the early Christians really did desire heaven. It had to be better than the life they were living. My life, securities, and possessions have moved me away from many of the realities of the presence of the Holy Trinity.

    Blessed Christmas to all

    • Hi Bruce. You know how this whole thing goes, right? The struggle in the midst of comfort. No question, we have it pretty easy in one sense yet we know the ease will kill us spiritually. Thankfully, the Church “requires” us to struggle and gives us what we need to sustain us. Thank you for being my friend and companion on this strenuous and glorious journey. Keith

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