On Letting Go

Guest Post by Emily Hill

Sometimes God speaks in small ways, and sometimes he throws everything at us to get our attention. You know those times in your life when everything you learn and experience all points to one major truth? For me they are usually fairly basic theological truths that I would have intellectually affirmed and that often sound like platitudes when I tell them to other people.

But when God moves and teaches them to me, they are anything but Sunday school answers. Okay, God, I’m paying attention.

Here’s what I’m learning now: Jesus is the only hope for my life and the only hope for the world.

I told you it sounded obvious; but is it really? Most of the time I don’t live like this statement is true.

I’m a Type A personality, a do-er, and generally a pretty capable person. My personality makes me susceptible to the lie that I can work to accomplish any goal and that I can largely control any given outcome with the right strategy and hard work. Certainly my personality strengths are gifts from God that I should utilize but just like any good thing they can easily become idols. My sense of control over life can actually enslave me.

When everything goes smoothly and I’m insulated from trials or suffering, the danger of control easily falls below my radar because I can maintain the illusion of control. However, when I’m faced with my own personal brokenness, brokenness in other people, and in relationships the feeling of control quickly slips away. When I’m faced with the brokenness of the world, its unjust systems and massive suffering the illusion that I have any control at all is shattered.

What am I left with when my own control and personal capacity is gone?

I recently watched the documentary As We Forgive. The film tells the story of two women whose families were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. During the genocide an estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.[1] Later, faced with a backlog of court cases the Rwandan government released over 50,000 perpetrators of the genocide, leaving the community to face those who had murdered their families.

In the wake of grief and turmoil there are great challenges. But something amazing is happening: reconciliation. Through the work of the church, ministers, and counseling organizations, perpetrators confessed and asked victims’ family members for mercy and forgiveness. Mediated by counselors, perpetrators and victims are coming together and victims are forgiving those who murdered their families. They are being restored to the relationships and community that existed before the genocide and beginning to flourish together.

I never would have expected something like that could happen when I first learned about the genocide though Hotel Rwanda. It sounds impossible.

Yet the same God who can reconcile murderers and families in Rwanda is the same God at work transforming injustices all over the world and transforming my life with the power that raised Christ from the dead.

Life is not a perfect picture now. God doesn’t always take away the suffering but his power and love can sustain me through any trials, fears or anxieties.

To be human in this world is to be fully dependent on and responsible to God—and that is where I find freedom. When I feel utterly helpless and alone, the truth of my dependence on God feels dramatic. But this truth extends to all aspects of my life: my body, breath, family, friends, work and community—it all depends on him. It is through him, for him and in him that I have my being.

On one hand it’s a matter of discipline for me to give up control of my life. But it’s not just that I have to give up my own control of my life, it’s that I get to give up control of my life and live in the freedom of God’s love and provision for me. I can pursue God with abandon, in the fullness of life, emotion, desire and commitment. I can be secure in his love for me and his victory.

I can let go.

People talk a lot about how to change the world or how to heal our individual lives and relationships. Brian Fikkert, author of When Helping Hurts, recently said on Twitter, “Union with Christ is THE theory of change.” We can develop and debate strategies and self-help approaches but the only true answer is Christ.

He is my only hope.

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 24-25


[1] Jason K. Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and The Great War of Africa (New York: Public Affairs) 2011, 13.

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Categories: Church & Theology,Justice & Culture

Theology and Culture