"When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Psalm 142:3 (NLT)
Have you ever had one of those late night come-to-Jesus moments where the weight of regret lays heavy across your chest?
For me, it usually happens because in the hectic pace of the day, I blew up at one of my kids, I brushed past a moment of connection with someone God put in my path, or I rushed through all the moments without stopping to enjoy any of them.
I've discovered a great source of stress, distraction and exhaustion in my life. I say yes to too many things. I take on too many good things, which causes me to miss my best things. It's so hard to say no and let go of opportunities that come my way. But if I don't learn the gift of release, I'll wrestle with a lack of peace.
I saw this visibly a few years ago when I traveled to visit a friend. As soon as she picked me up from the airport and we started driving, I saw the fallout from the storm she'd tried to describe. A massive 20-inch snow in the middle of fall.
But it wasn't the amount of snow still on the ground, or the snowmen proudly standing that grabbed my attention.
It was the broken trees. The branches were piled everywhere.
House after house. All down the street. Disastrous piles of limbs — big piles of trees — all still clinging to the leaves that hadn't dropped yet. And because the leaves hadn't dropped, the trees broke.
That's what happens when a snow comes early. The trees weren't designed to face snow before releasing their leaves. They weren't made to carry more than they should. And neither are we.
I know the weight of carrying more than I should. And usually it's because I've refused to release something before taking on something else. If I want to choose a Best Yes, it's crucial I make room for it first.
Otherwise, a Best Yes can quickly become a stressed yes. And a stressed yes is like snow on a tree that refuses to release its leaves. It causes cracks and breaks at our core.
If we refuse to release before we add, we will get overloaded.
We see how refusing to release gets people in trouble all throughout the stories in Scripture.
Eve refused to release the forbidden fruit. And because she became hyperfocused on that one thing, she missed out on the best things in paradise.
Esau refused to release his urgent need for some stew. And because he became hyperfocused on eating that soup, he missed out on his birthright.
Moses refused to release his fear that just speaking to the rock as God commanded wouldn't actually bring forth water. And because he struck the rock twice, he missed out on entering the Promised Land.
Each of these people paid a high price for their refusals to release — to let go of their ways so they could walk in the amazing way of God.
It wasn't God's desire for any of these people to suffer the consequences they did. Each of us has a free will, which means we have the freedom to make choices.
God tells us the right way to go, but we have to make the choice to do so. Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.
It was true for Eve, Esau and Moses. And it's true for you and me. Refusing to release often means refusing to have peace. I trade my peace for a weight of regret.
Release is a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, so desperate for help. She can feel the twinges and hear the creaking sounds of a splitting break about to happen.
She knows she can't take much more. She remembers Psalm 142:3, "When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." Tears well up in her upturned, pleading eyes. "God help me. It's all too much. I'm tired and frustrated and so very worn out."
The wind whips past her, trailing a whispered, "R-e-l-e-a-s-e." She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can't embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can't carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she'll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.
I think sometimes I'm resistant to release because I fear missing out. But, in an effort to hold on to too much, I wind up stressed, exhausted and at my breaking point.
Release brings with it the gift of peace. There are some opportunities I need to decline today. There are some things I need to say no to in this current season. There are good things I need to let go of so I can make room for the best things. Then and only then can my beautiful, bare winter branch receive its snow. When we release in peace, we signal we're now ready to receive.
Receive what's next. Receive what's best. Receive what's meant for this season, right now.
I don't know what you have to release right now. But I suspect you know. Just like I do in a few areas of my life.
So let's release. With release comes more peace. I see that now. I believe that now. And soon, I pray you will too.
Dear Lord, only You can help me with this release. My heart seeks to obey You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (NIV)
Are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? Lysa's new book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What do you feel like you need to release? Offer this thing up to the Lord in prayer and ask for wisdom, discernment, and direction.
© 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.