Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Releasing, Dec 18
“They shall call his name Immanuel which means, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus was born so that the truth of “God with us” could be reality in each of our lives. The very essence of life is “God with us.” We were created to be with God. Our lives are full and meaningful when we are with God … doing life with Him. It is an intensely relational reality and we are relational beings!
Sin is doing life without God. It is exactly what Adam and Eve did in the beginning. They decided to go it alone and that “stance” led to the act of doing what God had told them not to do, eating the fruit. We engage in sinful acts when we decide to go it alone. We can stay in this “stance” and act out of it. However, Christmas and the coming of Jesus into the world means that we can do life from a “God with us” stance … depending upon Him. If we have entered into a relationship with God through trusting Jesus Christ as Messiah, “God with us” is the fundamental truth of our lives. However, we may not be living in that truth … it may not be our fundamental experience. Living in that reality (which is the deepest desire of our lives) requires releasing.
When we are living independently, our hearts are small. We have those protective walls up because what is most real is our pain, our separation from God, our loneliness. So, we act in what we believe is our best interests. Note: it is acting out of what we believe and our self-interest. When we move into the reality of “God with us,” our hearts expand and we are able to act out of love for God and others. Again, it requires a releasing. We have to let go in order to experience what is most true about us in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews challenges us “if you hear his voice, don’t harden you hearts.” This speaks to listening, but he also talks about the releasing that happens after we listen to the call of God. When we are captured by the vision of the “God with us” life, we are listening and our hearts soften. Next, comes the releasing:
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (3:13)
What is the deceitfulness of sin? Think of it this way: if sin is the stance of living independently of God, then the deceitfulness of sin refers to beliefs we hold about the benefits of doing life independently of God. The reality is that we are only truly happy when we are doing life with God. So, we are encouraged to let go of the erroneous beliefs that tell us “you will be happy if _________.” True joy is not dependent upon doing something, being something, or having a specific circumstance in our lives. It is our reality that we experience when we let go of all else but this gracious gift of God with us.
What beliefs about what will make you happy do you need to release? Here’s a list of potential “deceitfulness of sin” statements:
I will be happy if I do good things.
I will be happy if I feel loved.
I will be happy if I feel admired.
I will be happy if I feel unique.
I will be happy if I can be competent.
I will be happy if I can have security.
I will be happy if I can be content.
I will be happy if I am in control.
I will be happy if I am at peace.
St. Ignatius spoke to this challenge to release when he said:
“It is necessary that we become indifferent to all created things so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what helps us praise, reverence, and serve God.”
How do we become indifferent and therefore open to the true joy of an expanded heart that can hold the love of God and others? We release. How do we know what to release? Pay attention to your emotions because they are reliable indicators of what we believe will make us happy. As you notice agitation, restlessness, unhappiness, loneliness, or anger, ask yourself what you are believing will make you happy.
Begin with the list above and prayerfully ask God for insight into your life. It may come quickly or you may have to stay with it for a while. What are your “deceitfulness of sin” statements? Next, ask the Lord to make you aware of your emotions throughout the day. When you notice something, stop, release, and pray this Psalm:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26
Releasing begins with a fundamental belief that life is only found in a “God with us” life and an understanding that we are in need of that life. We need to release and let go of old ways of thinking.
Father, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I want to live in You alone. I confess this is my deepest desire and yet I have other desires. Today, give me the courage to let go. Give me the strength to repent. Give me eyes to see those places of strength to which I cling that I might release all to You. Thank you for Your patience and grace and leading in my life. Enlarge my heart. Amen.