Afraid to Let Go

Background Passages: II Samuel 11:1-17 and 12:1-13; Isa. 43:18-19; Psalm 51:19 and Heb. 12:1-2

My brother celebrated one of those milestone birthdays years ago, determined to scratch parachuting from an airplane from his bucket list. With the appropriate time in the classroom, he strap a parachute to his back, climbed into a perfectly fine airplane and took off for his first…and only…static line jump.

In my mind a static line jump fits a on an insanity scale at a level slightly less than skydiving simply because it reduces operator error. Rather than jump, fall and pull your ripcord before you die, you climb out on the wing onto a metal platform with your parachute’s ripcord attached to a static line inside the plane. When you jump, you get two or three seconds of freefall until the line pulls the cord, automatically deploying the parachute. Blind panic assisted by old school technology. Once the canopy fully inflates, you enjoy the magnificent view from above as you glide to a soft landing on the good, green earth below.

My brother found himself standing on the platform flying at 5,000 feet, clutching tightly with both hands to the strut underneath its wing. Buffeted by the wind rushing past him. He waited for his instructor to give him the thumbs up to jump. At the appropriate time, the signal was given. He executed a perfect three-point jump. His feet lifted from the platform and one hand released its death grip. His fourth point, his right hand, refused to release the strut. He flapped wildly in the slipstream underneath the wing, unable to will himself to let go of his hold on that last vestige of safety.

Let’s leave him hanging there and come back to him in a minute and see if I can draw a point from this story.


David, God’s chosen king of Israel, did some pretty horrible things in his life. One particular incident would have spawned a salacious investigation in today’s news cycle. An affair with a married woman left her pregnant. David attempted to manipulate the situation by recalling her husband, Uriah, from the front line of battle to create the impression that the baby was a result of her husband’s leave. Her husband unknowingly thwarted the king’s maneuvering by honorably refusing to go home while his brothers were at war. David then compounded his sin by quietly ordering Uriah and his soldiers on a suicide mission where he would most certainly die, giving David the chance to marry the hero’s widow. David did some despicable things.

When God’s prophet challenged the king’s actions, David recognized his sin, feeling the heavy burden of remorse for his actions. He fell on his face in repentance, asking God to forgive him for everything he had done. David’s felt the sting of his guilt, but he would never now release from that heavy burden until he let go of his failed past and accepted the ever=present reassurance of God’s grace and forgiveness. Only then would his relationship with the Father be reconciled and restored.

Two things happen to us who feel genuine remorse when faced with our own sin. We can seek God’s forgiveness and start anew within the grace he provides, much as David did. Too often, however, we never move past remorse to repentance, clinging to our failure with loathing and self-pity, certain that God could never forgive anyone so unworthy.

I was reminded of that fact not too long ago when I visited with a former pastor who had walked far from the path God intended. He was certain he strayed so far that God could never use him again in kingdom work. The work of Christ on the cross cleared the path for forgiveness, but this man could not bring himself to let go of the past and find a new way of serving him. It’s a journey most of us have made at some point in our lives.

When we refuse to accept the grace of God and forgive ourselves, we tend to drag the past behind us like an anchor. Instead God tells us the same thing he told the people of Israel in Isaiah 43:18-19…

“Forget (let go of) the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

The instruction is so clear. Let go of our sin. Release it into God’s forgiving hands. He makes a way in the wasteland of our lives to restore us for a new thing. A new work.


Let’s not leave my brother hanging on the wing.

Though it probably seemed like an eternity bouncing around in the slipstream, my brother eventually let go of the strut. The static line pulled the ripcord. The parachute opened. He enjoyed “a new thing.” For minutes on end, he floated lazily on his descent to earth 5,000 feet below with the wondrous panorama of sky and earth laid out before him. He called it “exhilarating,” and “adrenaline rush.” Yet, he only experienced the joy when he let go.


There may be nothing as miserable for a Christian who desires to walk the walk than to fail to do right. Walking in that shadow of guilt is debilitating, affecting not only our relationship with God, but our relationships with others. We can fall on our knees earnestly seeking and intellectually accepting God’s forgiveness. We will never experience full release until we let go of the past and accept the next new thing God prepares for us.

David got his life back on track by asking God to “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:19) It is a simple prayer of a fully repentant heart that says, “God, help me set aside my past and stay focused on you.”

The writer in Hebrews puts it another way by telling us to “throw off” or let go of everything that hinders us from serving God to the best of our ability. And, he even tells us how. Look at that remarkable passage in Hebrew 12:1-2.

“…Let us throw off (let go of) everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Guilt effectively destroys grace-filled living. Keeps us from believing God can use us in any significant way. I’m convinced when we let go of our guilt we will find life laid out before us in a wondrous panorama of God’s exceptional will for each of us. Exhilarating. An adrenaline rush of eternal proportions.

(Author’s Note: Feel free to forward this Bible study to anyone you feel might benefit from its message. Encourage your them to subscribe to the blog by going to and entering their email address in the box on the right side of the page. Once registered, you will receive an email announcing each new post. Thank you for sharing.)

A Mother’s Defining Moments

Background Passage: Proverbs 31:1-31

I think someone is trying to tell me something. Every Mother’s Day at my church, each mother is given a beautiful rose or some other lovely gift and a sermon extolling that Proverbs 31 woman we love and cherish. On Father’s Day, it seems, we get a self-help book on fatherhood and hear a sermon on how to be a more Godly man. Maybe we get what we deserve.

Each Mother’s Day brings to me a sense of rejoicing, remembrance and loss. My mother, Earline Lewis, passed away in 1998. Cancer claimed her but not before she shared a full life as a wonderful wife to my Dad, an amazing mother to her three children and a quiet influence to a new generation of women.

As a young woman in the 1940s, Mom studied to become an Registered Nurse. Upon graduation, she enlisted to serve as a nurse during World War II. The war ended about the same time and she was never shipped out, but she looked awfully good in her uniform. She lived a farmer’s life as a farmer’s wife, a stay-at-home mother and, for a brief time, a school nurse in our community. She ended her career as a medical director in a retirement community in Lubbock, Texas. I was always quite proud of her.

I have thought of her often over the last 18 years. If you’ll allow me a blog of personal privilege, I’d like to tell you about her on this Mother’s Day.

Mom was a woman of practical and personal faith. She experienced worship less on bended knee and more with helping hands. She lived an applied faith. Each day she demonstrated God’s love through her service to the hurting and the sick. To those whose minds outlived their bodies and whose bodies outlived their minds. She had a listening ear and a sensitive touch. Her worship often took her away from church on Sundays as she tended to the biblical “ox in the ditch.” I know God felt her worship every day.

Her faith was as personal as it was practical. She was God’s hand and heart to her elderly patients that were sometimes alone and abandoned. They were not just patients in bed three or four, they were beautiful faces, recognizable names, persons to be cared for and loved. She taught me that God calls us to care for the “least of his children.” Because he loves the least, we must also love and act in meaningful ways.

Mom was a woman of private heart. “Private,” not “remote.” When Mom loved you and engaged you, it felt like you were the only two people in the world. She was not overly demonstrative. Not one to gush. Yet, there was never a time in my life as a child or adult when I questioned her love for my Dad, her children or her grandchildren. You saw love glistening in her eyes. Felt it glowing in her smile. With a word and a touch she could connect her heart to yours.

My Grandma Mills, my mom’s mother, died in a car accident when I was young. We all felt such grief at an unexpected loss. I sat on the steps in Grandma’s house trying to play with a few toys and take my mind off of everything happening around me. I was having a hard time holding it together. Mom sat down and played with me for a time without saying a word. I cried. She cried. I hugged her. She hugged me. There were no platitudes of false comfort that I had heard from other well-meaning souls…“God just needed your Grandmas in heaven more than he needed her here.” She simply allowed me to look deeply into her hurting heart as she reached out to mine.

Mom was a woman of deep tenderness. She stood with my wife, Robin, and I in the tiny bathroom of our home the day we brought our first son home from the hospital. He was so little. Looked so fragile. So breakable. Clueless about everything, we asked her to give him his first bath while we watched. She handled a squirming and screaming sack of potatoes with such ease. She touched him, offering soothing words of comfort. She never stopped smiling and cooing at him no matter how loud he cried. Tenderness and patience.

Mom was a woman of constant love. Her relationship with her four grandchildren was nothing short of mesmerizing. The perfect grandmother. Whether it was sitting on the floor playing with dolls or trucks or joining in their conspiracy by teaching them to play poker, she was fully devoted to them. She gave them her full attention…every minute they were together. There were countless hours of intimate dialogue about dinosaurs, donuts, dolls, dreams. Shared secrets about school, sports, sororities and scholarships. Every conversation laced with a perfect blend of humor, intelligence and love. She never talked down to them. The priceless value of those encounters came less from the topic being discussed and more from the time she spent with them. Her love never wavered.

Those vignettes do not reveal everything about my Mom, but it gives you a little insight into a fabulous woman who made a difference in my life. I adored her laugh, her sense of humor, her common sense and her insight. She could cook a mean roast, suture a wound, drive a tractor, haul cotton to the gin and discuss Pauline theology. She could have done anything…been anything she wanted to be…but she was content to be my Mom. These are but a few of the things that defined her, a few of the imprints she left on my soul. She was an extraordinary influence in the lives of my brother, my sister and me. I will love her always.

I also do not think her influence stopped with us. They say that men often marry their mothers. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I married Robin 40 years ago. Though different in many ways, my Mom and Robin share identical hearts. Robin’s love for God flows through to her love for our boys. When they were children she always looked for new experiences and new opportunities for our boys to explore, sharing their interests and encouraging their curiosity. Making time for them whenever needed. Her love for them remains sacrificial and ever present. She was and is a great mother to them, helping to mold them into the amazing, Godly men they have become. I am blessed to call her my wife and the mother of our children.

Adam and Andrew, in turn, married two incredible women, Jordan and Melissa, respectively, both of whom remind me of my Mom in all the ways that matter most. I celebrate their similarities, their uniqueness, but rejoice in the mothers they have become. I admire their abiding faith and the way it governs their lives.

It may be more difficult to be a good mother in today’s world. Society tells parents to back away and let the kids find their way without undue parental influence. What a joy it is to watch Jordan with Eli and Josiah; Melissa with Lena. As mothers, these two young women are models of love, patience, discipline and devotion. I know this to be true because I’ve never seen three happier children. My grandchildren will never live a second without feeling their mothers’ love. What a gift that will be in the years to come!

I hope each of you takes the time this Mother’s Day to remember and thank that special woman who gave you life. Whether she is physically present or eternally remembered makes little difference. Her impact on your life has been immeasurable.

Happy Mother’s Day, Robin. Happy Mother’s Day, Jordan and Melissa.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. This verse is for you.

“Her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband also and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29.


(Author’s Note: Feel free to forward this Bible study to anyone you feel might benefit from its message. Encourage your them to subscribe to the blog by going to and entering their email address in the box on the right side of the page. Once registered, you will receive an email announcing each new post. Thank you for sharing.)