To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. — Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6
One of the mysteries of prayer is that obtaining sometimes only comes by completely letting go. God is loving and good at all times, but we often don’t like to remember that He is also exacting. He requires that we withhold nothing from Him.
God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. After waiting, believing, and probably investing much prayer into the promise for twenty-five years, Abraham received the beginning fulfillment. Isaac was born. Abraham obtained his son through phenomenal endurance, and he loved Isaac dearly … and then the Lord asked Abraham to give Isaac back to Him (Genesis 22). I don’t like that story very much. I understand the typology. It is a picture of Father giving His only Son for us. But I still don’t like it.
Every one of us will go through times of testing when God will put His finger on a promise, a desire of the heart, and say, “Will you give that to Me?” It may be something we have already obtained through precious prayer, or it may involve something not yet obtained, for which we have labored long and in which we have invested much love.
To understand why God does this, we must be aware that His perfect nature is many-faceted. Although He is our most loving Father, He is also the supreme Potentate of the universe, and as such, He demands complete allegiance. Relinquishing all is a test of our fear of the Lord. He already knows whether we will pass the test before He gives it to us, and He equips us with the ability to succeed before He tests us, but the test is still presented.
Letting go involves submitting everything to Him, knowing that He is perfectly capable of rescuing us or our cherished object, perfectly capable of resurrecting whatever dream we entrust to Him, and yet realizing we face the risk that He will not intervene to rescue or resurrect. It is a defining moment of saying, “Lord, You promised me this, and yet I give it freely to You, to do with as You like — even if You don’t restore it to me.” That takes great trust, but it is a trust that He will honor, here on earth, and eventually in eternity.
We see Job giving God this kind of yieldedness, when he said, “Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood absolute relinquishment as well. When faced with the fiery furnace, they were aware of God’s promises in the Word to rescue His faithful ones. But look what they said: “Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if He does not … we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:17, 18). They were committed to putting their very lives completely at the Lord’s disposal, and whether He helped them, or whether He let them fall, they were totally His. Now, He did help them, just as He rescued Abraham from actually sacrificing his beloved Isaac, but it was a real risk of trusting in the face of the unknown for each of them, just the same.
Perhaps you are in a time of desperately needing an answer from the Lord. You’ve fought hard and done all that you could to obtain. You have believed and declared all the right Scriptures. Like-minded, committed prayer warriors have been solidly agreeing with you. You have prayed it through in the Spirit. Your faith grew along the way to a point of feeling unshakable. And yet you are at a real crisis point.
Sometimes letting go removes the last barrier to obtaining the answer. You might need to say from the depths of your heart, “Lord, I’ve done all I could, to the best of my ability. Now it’s up to You. Whether I live or die, and whether what I’ve been praying for lives or dies, I will trust You.”
Relinquishment is a key to breakthrough. You may see immediate results. Or, there may be a death of your promise or petition that requires a resurrection, for which you must patiently wait and trust. God does it both ways.
Now, I know some of you have experienced a devastating loss. You did not receive the rescue or restoration which you had hoped for, and your faith is pretty well shattered. I’d like to share a few more thoughts with you in the next post.