I recently heard a story about a group of women in their fifties that went rafting. They were briefed before getting into the boat about what to do in case it flipped—put their legs up, and let the river carry them while the raft guide clips into a rope and flips the raft into its correct position.
Off they went down the river with their guide, a trainee, and another raft guide following behind them in a kayak.
Inevitably their boat flipped, and instead of following proper flipping protocol (pfp as I like to call it), the women grabbed onto the side of the raft for dear life while the trainee screamed bloody murder beside them. Their presence made it impossible for the struggling guide to flip the raft right-side up, so the whole time he’s yelling, “You have to let go of the rope!” Well these women refused, so along comes the other guide floating behind them in a kayak yelling the same thing,
“You have to let go of the rope!”
When they refused again the guide in the kayak started bopping each of the women on the head with his oar until they released their grip so the boat could be flipped and the whole crew brought to safety.
I cried laughing when I heard this story, because it’s a ridiculous visual. Four women in their fifties getting bopped on the head by an oar while floating down the river.
But the truth is, I have been one of those women…not floating down the river, but in life. How often have I foolishly tried to hold on to the very thing I need to let go of in order for my life to get better? I’ve talked to countless people who know that holding onto a grudge, their own guilt, a job, a relationship, a sense of control … is the very thing that is holding them back from living the full life God is calling them into. And yet we hold on.
I hold on because I am terrified that when I let go, life might get rough before I'm rescued.
In my mind I know the only way to be rescued is to let go, but I’m upset when God gently bops me on the head or let’s me be jostled by the water. I want there to be an option to keep clinging yet somehow magically appear in the comfort of the boat. Is that so much to ask?!
But like these women, if I don't release my grip I'm denying myself the freedom that comes from giving over, from getting swept up, and from feeling the reassuring hands on my shoulders pulling me back into the boat. The letting go is the only way to move forward into the life God is calling me.
What do you need to let go of today in order to live the life God has for you?
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight'. Proverbs 3.5-6.