Letting Go

Letting go of something or someone we hold close in our lives is never an easy task.  Recognizing it as a gift and not demanding it as a right can be challenging.  I heard a story several years ago that helped me to understand the difference.

There was a woman who, every morning did her dishes about the same time.  The window over her kitchen sink looked out over her front lawn, driveway, and street.  One morning as she was doing her dishes, she noticed a stranger in the neighborhood, walking down the street.  He was wearing a bowler hat and dressed in a suit.  “How unusual”, she thought, “first day of the month, must be a salesman!”

Sure enough, the man turned down her driveway and headed for the front door.  “I knew it”, she thought!  Hearing the knock on the door as she dried her hands, she walked over to open the door to the chain’s length.  Peering through the two inch crack it made, she barked “What do you want?”.  “Not a thing, ma’am.  I’ve just come to give you a blessing.”  With that, the man held out a $100 bill for her to take through the crack.  She took it, hesitatingly.  He tipped his hat and walked away.

Being very suspicious and not trusting anyone, she thought for sure there must be more to this than met the eye, so she hung on to the bill and waited to see if he would come back again the next day, presumably to collect.

Sure enough, the next day as she was doing dishes she saw the man walking in the neighborhood. As she suspected, he once again turned down her driveway.  “I knew it”, she thought! Hearing the knock on the door as she dried her hands, she walked over to open the door to the chain’s length.  Peering through the two inch crack it made, she barked “I just knew you would be back.  I have the money if that is what you want!”  “No, ma’am. I’ve just come to give you a blessing.”  With that, the man held out another $100 bill for her to take through the crack.  Confused, she reached out to get it.  He tipped his had and walked away.

This continued for the next several days, with the stranger handing her a $100 bill each time, and with her taking it with suspicion and holding on to it, waiting for him to demand it back.  After the 10th day, the woman starts to really believe this is indeed a blessing, and that he will not be asking for it back.  Amazed that now she has $1000, she excitedly goes shopping and has a blast, spending every last dollar.

Each day the man continues to come and bless her with a $100 bill, and by now, the woman is greeting him with door and arms open wide, sometimes even handing him small gifts or tins of cookies.  Oh, life is good!

On the first day of the following month, as the woman was watching out her kitchen window and waiting expectantly, something was different.  The man was there as usual, in his suit and bowler hat, but this time he did not turn up her driveway.  Walking past, he turned up the driveway of her neighbor instead.

In a flash the woman was out in her front lawn, standing on her sidewalk, watching.  Sure enough, the man rang the doorbell of her neighbor, who opened the door to chain’s length.  She watched as he handed her neighbor a $100 bill, tip his hat, and walk away.  As he turned to walk down the street, she yells at the top of her lungs “YOU DIRTY DAWG”!

You may laugh at the story the way I once did, thinking it was cute, but here is the lesson I believe the story intends to get across.  The woman in the story reacted in the end the way she did because she believed the $100 each day had become her right.  He had been giving it to her for weeks!  She had a right to that money from now on!  So when it was taken away, what she yelled was evidence that she felt cheated and angry.  In reality, the $100 she was given each day was a gift, not a right.  Every day was a new gift of $100, for her to take and enjoy any way she wanted for as long as she had it.

That is the way it is, too, with the gifts of God in our lives.  Many times this gift shows up in the form of another person.  A parent, mentor, spouse, or child, for example.  We are never guaranteed the pleasure of having this person in our lives.  Each day we have them is a gift from the Lord Himself, to have and enjoy. Sometimes the gift shows up in the form of a healthy body or mind for either us or someone we love.  Sometimes it shows up as a material possession, such as a house, good income, plenty of food or other type of blessing.  Ours to have in that moment and enjoy.

How do you react when the gift is no longer yours?  Do you, like the woman, get angry and curse God because the gift is no longer in your possession?  Or would you rather bless God for each and every day you were able to enjoy the gift while it was yours to have?  It is a choice we all make.

Scripture tells us in the book of James that every good gift comes from above, from the Father of lights.  For those of us who are Christian, we choose to serve Him, giving up our own will and agendas to align with His perfect will and purpose for us instead.  If He is truly Lord of our lives, then our will and our agendas belong to Him, as do our rights – our right to have this or that.  We let them all go.  We trust Him and Him alone.  We have faith that where He leads and what He does is good.  And we choose to bless Him rather than curse Him.

What do you have in your life today that is a blessing?  The choice is yours.

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