Give it up, okay?
APRIL 27, 2023
Give it up. Okay? Let’s talk about what to give up, on Key Life.
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free. And Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give into slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown. He’s an author, broadcaster, and seminary professor who’s sick of phony religion.
Thank you Matthew. I introduced an important concept, now we’re talking about the sound of silence where God says.
Be still and know that I’m God.
And how important that silence is in our lament. Lament includes noise, it includes noise that others can hear, and it includes noise that God can hear. But once it’s spent, there is silence. And in that silence, God comes. The most salient act a Christian can do in the midst of the lament is to relinquish all that the lament is about. It is said that when the severed hands and head of Richard Cameron. He was a 17th century Scottish Covenanter, was brought for identification to his father who was then in prison. His father said through his tears, it is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord. Whether it’s the death of one’s son, the loss of a job, the pain of cancer, those words are the doorway to release and freedom. It is the recognition of three absolute facts, God’s sovereignty, God’s goodness, and God’s faithfulness. Sometimes relinquishment is forced on us. When a thief points a gun at you and demands your money, giving your money to a thief is to relinquish it. And that’s not a choice. When one’s lament comes as a result of a death or a physician’s dark diagnosis, it’s sort of like that thief. What are you going to do, but relinquish. But most of our pain isn’t that final. Most of it requires intentional relinquishment and like being silent and having faith, it’s not as easy as it seems. However, like being silenced and having faith, it is quite simple. Catherine Marshall was my friend, a lot of you don’t know who she was, but she wrote a famous and bestselling book and there was a film out of it, called A Man Called Peter. He was the chaplain of the Senate and the pastor of a large church in Washington. Their son, by the way, was my friend and he’s in heaven now, but she tells the story, Catherine does of when they moved to Washington from Atlanta and she was sick. She was really sick. She said, she called people and asked them to pray, and they prayed. She confessed every sin she had ever committed. She said, I even went back and asked forgiveness from a third grade teacher where I cheated on a test. She had people come and anoint her with oil and she prayed with them that she would be healed. She said to God, God, my husband is the pastor of this large church and the chaplain of the Senate, and he needs me standing with him. Please do something. You know what God did? Nothing. She stayed sick. After all the prayers and all the anointing and all the pleading, she stayed sick. So finally, one day, cause she didn’t have any choice. She fell back on her bed and she told God how angry she was. And then she said, but I belong to you and if you want me to be sick for the rest of my life, I’ll be sick for the rest of my life. I relinquish that to you. And you know what happened? That was the day she started getting better. Now, that’s not a promise. When you relinquish something, it doesn’t mean that God promises to intervene and change it, but there is a release and sometimes it’s forced on us. There, while we’re talking about it, there’s a sense in which the practice of relinquishment is easier when there’s no other choice. In fact, as I said of control, we have far less control than we think we do. Circumstances that we lament are generally not our choosing. However, sometimes that lack of choice is clearer than at other times. Job, for instance, had little to do with his horrible plight. His statement at the beginning of the book is a statement of relinquishment. But it is also a statement of fact and his helplessness in facing it.
When I was born into the world
he writes, and this is Job 1:21.
I was naked and had nothing. When I die and leave this world, I will be naked and have nothing. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise be the name of the Lord.
When you can do nothing, do nothing, and that’s called relinquishment. As an aside, relinquishment is about forgiveness too. One of the interesting things about pain is that it has a tendency to focus on our responsibility where what often leads to the lament. I can’t lament the pain of divorce without seeing my part in it. The death of someone I love without thinking about things I wish I had said or physical ailments without thinking of how I should have lived a healthier lifestyle. But it goes deeper than that. Genuine lament leaves us, as it were, naked before a holy God. And a part of that is seeing not only his holiness, but our lack of it. That leads to the relinquishment of forgiveness. Jesus said we should ask for forgiveness and that appropriate requests should lead to forgiving others.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
That’s the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Everything bad that happens isn’t always somebody else’s fault. Sometimes it is, but not always, there’s an old story about a man who hated his brother-in-law. On his deathbed, he called his wife to his side and said, tell your brother I forgive him, but you wait till you’re sure I’m dead before you do. That’s probably not the best way to do forgiveness, but the call to forgive was revealed in the darkness of impending death and it’s lament. There’s freedom in letting go, the literal meaning of the word forgiveness, and relinquishing the list of charges directed to those who either caused the lament or didn’t care about your pain in the lament. However, there’s another kind of relinquishment that is preparatory to those times of pain, loss, and darkness that are inevitably a part of our lives. I live in Florida where hurricanes are fairly regular occurrences. When we lived in Miami, we went through Hurricane Andrew, up to that time, the greatest natural disaster America had experienced. And in fact did very little to prepare for it. Just before the hurricane, we drove back from North Carolina. And what did we know? We were raised in the mountains of North Carolina where there aren’t any hurricanes. And we knew people who had gone through hurricanes and did fine, and we thought, how bad can it be? Well, it was really bad, and as the roof of our house blew off and we thought it was our time to die, we realized that a lot more preparation would’ve been in order. Once our roof blew off, I told my wife and a friend staying with us that during the eye of the hurricane, a calm place we were going to run across the street where a neighbor had prepared for every contingency. All his lawn furniture was moved inside, all of his windows were boarded up, and anything that couldn’t be moved had been anchored. When the eye of the hurricane came and it was calm for a moment, we opened the door, looked across the street to our neighbor, and his house wasn’t there. No, I’m not talking about destruction and pile of rubble, nothing was there. Just a dark hole in the ground, so much for control. During the hurricane, all the preparation in the world didn’t help, but in the areas of tragedy and pain and loss, and ultimately death, preparation is always in order. I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling good, my problems are minimal. And all seems right with the world. But listen to me, every day the world rolls over on top of somebody who is just sitting on top of it. So, it’s best while you are on top of the world to look to him, to be silent, and to prepare. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. And with that, we wrap up this week’s exploration of Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament. Remember, if you missed any episodes, swing on by our digital treehouse at keylife.org where you can stream every single episode of Key Life, for free. And be sure to join us tomorrow for the nearly world famous Friday Q&A. Tomorrow Steve and Pete will answer this question, does evolution contradict the Christian faith? Hmm. Tune in tomorrow to find out. Hey, speaking of questions, here’s one for you. Are you a jerk? I am. Well, a recovering jerk, and I’m not alone. In fact, it happens to a lot of Christians. Well, Chad West discusses this phenomenon in an article titled Be Not A Jerk. And you will find that article in the 2023 edition of Key Life Magazine, along with other great pieces by Jenni Young, Kendra Fletcher, Steve. Claim your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. And if you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. And finally, would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card. You could include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up the phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.