“Forgetting those things which are behind . . .” (Philippians 3:13).
REACHING FORWARD IS A HARD THING TO DO WHEN IT REQUIRES US TO LET GO OF THINGS WE’RE NOT READY TO LET GO OF. Some aspects of our lives might not be hard to surrender, of course, but other things may not be so easy to relinquish. Yet there is no other way. We can’t stay in the same spot and move ahead too.
The blessings God has given us in this “life under the sun” are meant to be enjoyed, but they’re meant to be enjoyed and then let go of. In contrast to what we’ll enjoy in life beyond the sun, all things here are temporal and transitory. Not one of these enjoyments — not even the best of them — is ours to keep permanently. Job spoke for all of us when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21).
As with all “consumables,” we should be willing to let go of these favors once they’ve served their purpose in God’s will for our lives. We understand this to be true when we die — we will surely leave all earthly benefits behind at that point. But many of them will have to be relinquished before we die. So even while we have them to enjoy, we should hold them gently. God shouldn’t have to pry our fingers off of them when the time comes.
If there is any “thing” that we can’t let go of, that thing is an idol, and idols destroy souls. Jesus urged us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, and He contrasted the permanence of those treasures to the perishability of all things earthly (Matthew 13:44). But we make a tragic mistake if we think Jesus had in mind only the wicked and their trust in things like money. A Christian who holds his family relationships as tightly as some people hold their money is being just as worldly. All earthly things, even the ones that good people prefer, are temporary. And we should be willing to part with them whenever reaching forward requires us to do so.
The sad thing is, our won’t-let-go attitude often diminishes our enjoyment of what we have even while we have it. That’s the message of Ecclesiastes, and it’s a part of the gospel of Christ as well. Whatever God has given us in this world, we get more out of it, not less, when we loosen our grip and hold it more openly.
“In the kingdom of God the surest way to lose something is to try to protect it, and the best way to keep it is to let it go” (A. W. Tozer).