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I and Thou Series

The Art of  ‘Let Go and Let God’

Dr. Alex Tang

 

 

Introduction

Twenty five centuries ago, Sun Tzu wrote an extraordinary book in China called the Art of War. Sun Tzu was a general of the Kingdom of Wu in 512 BC. Its thirteen chapters contain the wisdom of waging war. A legend has it that Napoleon’s key to success was this little book. Mao Tze Tong is an ardent student of Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu wrote: ‘ The art of war is governed by 5 factors:

(1)   The Moral Law – causes people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

(2)   Heaven – night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons

(3)   Earth – distances, great or small; danger and security; open ground or narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

(4)   The Commander – the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.

(5)   Method and discipline – the marshalling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduation of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies reach the army and the control of military expenditure.’[1]

The 5 factors formed a pentagon. When we think of war, we often think of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. It is the nerve center of the American war machine. The Pentagon is a 5-sided building that houses the Department of Defense of the United States of America. It is the largest office building in the world with 23,000 people working in it. The Air Force, Army and Navy use it.  It consists of 5 concentric pentagons around a center courtyard. It has a shopping center, large food court, bus and taxi stand and a heliport.

This evening, we shall not be considering the art of war but of the art of peace.  The art of John 3:30.  He shall increase while I shall decrease.

28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’  29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  30 He must become greater; I must become less. [2]

Remember in the Jewish custom, the best friend of the bridegroom was to arrange the wedding. He has to do the running around; making sure everything is ready. Then he waits with the bride. The bridegroom will come in a wedding procession. When he arrives and the wedding ceremony begins, the best friend’s job is over. He let go of the whole matter and let the bridegroom takes over. Hence he must become greater; I must become less or in another translation, He must increase and I must decrease.  The best friend must be willing to let go. How ridiculous it will be if the best friend refuse to let go of the wedding ceremony and to let the bridegroom take over.  Tonight we shall consider the art of  ‘let go-let God.’

 

A.        The Art to ‘Let Go’

 

 A young man, who was struggling to let the Lord have His way in his life, knelt to pray. He had been advised to “Let God do the work for him.” But as he was kneeling, he cried, “I want to let God have His way, but I can’t.”

 The day before he had cut out of pasteboard the letters “LET GOD” and tacked them on the wall. He rose from his knees and with a feeling of defeat and despair, he left the room and slammed the door with a bang, saying, “I can’t “LET GOD.””

 On his return to his room, he was startled to note that the slam of the door had loosened the letter D on the word GOD, causing it to fall to the floor, and changing the motto to “LET GO.”

 “I will, I will, Lord Jesus,” he cried and threw himself on his knees at the side of his bed. “I will “Let go,” and “Let God,”” and he did.

 

It is not easy to let go. We like to have control of our lives.  We like to decide what to do with our families, with our money, with our time and with our lifestyle. As a friend of mine said, religion is fine as long as it does not interfere with his golf.  Like the Art of War, the Art of John3: 30 have 5 factors. In the last 5 months we have considered 5 factors that will help us to let go.

 

Text Box: OBEDIENCE
Text Box: CHARACTER
Text Box: ENCOURAGEMENT
Text Box:        MENTORING
Text Box: LET GO
LET GOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Box: COMMITMENT

1.         The Baptist and the Christ - Character

A.                 Be content with what you have been given and work with it

B.                 Know your calling

C.                Be joyful you are doing God’s will

D.                Be willing to let go when your job is done

It is John the Baptist’s character that allows him to step aside and let Jesus of Nazareth fulfills his ministry.

 

2.         The King and the Prophet / Saul and Samuel – Obedience

A.                 What are our responses when God calls us?

B.                 When we are instructed to wait, do we know how to wait patiently and faithfully?

C.                Do we try to please God on His terms or do we try to please God on our own terms?

Samuel tried to teach Saul obedience but unfortunately Saul was not a good student. Saul could not give up control. He could not wait for Samuel and for the Lord to act. So he took things into his own hands.

 

3.         The Levite and the Pharisee/ Barnabas and Paul – Encouragement

A.                 The basis of encouragement comes from a life ‘full of the Holy Spirit and faith’

B.                 The power for encouragement comes from the belief in the worth of the individual

C.                The act of encouragement involves words and deeds.

Barnabas, the encourager helps to elevate Paul to a position of Christian leadership. Barnabas was willing to let Paul go to develop on his own.

 

4.         The Pharisee and the Greek/ Paul and Timothy – Mentoring

A.                 Mentoring is a relationship in which a mature Christian guides a younger Christian to grow in faith and ministry

B.                 Mentoring is character building

C.                Mentoring is worked out in the context of life and ministry

D.                Mentoring is spiritual multiplication

Paul, in mentoring Timothy helps him to develop in a mature Christian and an effective pastor.

 

5.       The Widow and the Jewish Mother-in-law/ Ruth and Naomi – Commitment

A.                 Commitment is by will, not emotions

B.                 Commitment is not only to someone but towards a something

C.                God honors our commitments

Because of Ruth the Moabitess commitment to Naomi, He rewarded her with a husband, with security and with a son.

 

THE ART TO ‘LET GO’ DEPENDS ON CHARACTER, OBEDIENCE, ENCOURAGEMENT, MENTORING AND COMMITMENT.

 

 We are not to cling to the things of this world.  Remember Jesus’ words “What profits a man to win the world but loses his soul”.

 

B.                The Art To ‘Let God’.

A man was climbing a very tall tree in the dark. It was such a dark night that he could not see anything without his torch. He was very high in the tree when he slipped and fell. He fell for a while but managed to stop the fall by hanging to the branch with both hands. He lost his torch in the fall so he could not see how far he is from the ground. He is hanging there in the dark and he felt his hands are slipping. He cried out, “Lord help me. I cannot hang on much longer.”  There was a sound of thunder and he heard God’s voice. “My son, let go”.  The man again cried, “ Lord help me. If I let go I shall fall and injure myself. Maybe break a few bones. Send your angels to lift me up.” God’s voice again boomed, “My son, let go”. The man again shouted, desperately as he felt his hands slipping. “ Lord, I cannot let go. I am afraid.”  God’s voice again boomed, “ My son, trust me and let go.”  Then suddenly there was a flash of lightning and the man saw he was only about a foot from the ground.

The main reason we cannot master the art of letting go and letting God is that we do not trust God enough. We cannot let God because we do not trust God. We trust our talents, our bank account and our connections more than we trust God. But the art of letting God is the art of trusting God.

a.                  John the Baptist is willing to set aside in his ministry for Jesus is because he trusts God. He let God have control of his ministry and his life.

b.                  Saul failed as king of Israel because he does not trust God enough. He was not willing to let go and let God. He trusted more in his own might and abilities. He was impatient and not willing to allow time for God to act. He thought he could please God by performing the sacrifices.

c.                  Barnabas can be an encourager because he trusted God. He can let go and let God work on Paul. Impulsive, angry but multi-talented Paul. Barnabas put his reputation on the line when he recommended Paul to the church in Jerusalem. Barnabas did it because he is willing to let go and let God work.

d.                  Paul has have learnt his lessons from Barnabas because he mentored Timothy in the same way. He let Timothy make mistakes. He does not micro-manage Timothy’s ministry. He is willing to let go and let God work on Timothy.

e.                  Ruth is the greatest example of letting go and letting God. She gave up her home, her people, her heritage to follow Naomi home to Bethlehem. She gave up everything and trusted in a new God, the God of Naomi, Yahweh. She literally put her life into the Hands of Yahweh. And God blessed her with a family and through her was the lineage of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

THE ART TO ‘LET GOD’ IS TRUST AND FAITH

How much do we trust our God?

 

Lessons for us

The Art of  ‘Let Go-Let God’

i.                    Our personal life

·        Decision-making – how much of our decision-making is dependent solely on our mental capacity, our rational thinking. Do we include prayers in our decision making? Do we seek the council of God and of his people in our decision making? And after we had made a decision, do we let go of the decision made and let God take over.

·        Regrets – do we have a lot of regrets in our lives? Do we live in guilt because of ‘if only we have….’?  Everybody have perfect hindsight. If only I have known that I would have done this. If only I have sold my share then, I would have made a lot of money. Walt Whitman, in his poem ‘ A Road less Well Traveled’ deals with the regrets we all have in our lives. If we can believe in God and trust that everything happens for a purpose. Then we should let go of our regrets and let God takes care of them.

·        Exams – I hate exams. But exams are part of life. Like going to a dentist is a part of life. You may not like it but you have to do it. So study as hard as you can. But after all the work is done, after all the revisions has been done, then there will come a time when you must ‘let go-let God’ do the rest.

 

ii.                  Our Family

·        Spouse

A woman once said, “ I spent 15 years our marriage changing my husband and now he is not the man I married.”  Do we try too hard to change our spouse into our ideal of what he or she should be instead of turning to the Lord in prayers to appreciate who they are? For our spouse who are not Christians or who are not longer walking with the Lord, do we try too hard to bring them back to the Lord. Do you find our effort driving them further? Can we let go and let God take care of it? Should we turn more to the Lord in prayer rather than depending on our own effort?

·        Children – do we regard our children as unique persons or ours on loan from the Lord? Do we worry so much and fuss so much over our children that we cannot allow them freedom to make mistakes and trust the Lord will take care of them – mistakes and all.

 

iii.                Friends

·        Possessive – are we possessive about out friends? Are we jealous that our friends have friends? If so, there is something wrong in the relationship.

iv.                Our career

·        Career path – do we spend a lot of time worrying about our career? Can we do our best, give our best and leave the career future to the Lord.

v.                  Our church

·        Ministries – I often wonder how much of the church ministries are done in our own power. By our own steam. And we get irritated because we do not see any results. Members still behave the same. It is time for leaders to do their job, let go and let God take care of the rest.

·        Prayer

 

Conclusion

The Art of  ‘Let Go and Let God’ is not lazing around and not doing anything. We are still to work. We need to work. On our character, our obedience, our encouraging, our mentoring and our commitment. It means that after we have done everything humanly possible, then we should let go and let God take care of the whole thing.

 

                                                                                                                                                      Soli Deo Gloria


 

[1] Sun Tzu, The Art of War (London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1910) p.15

[2]The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

 

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