My friend Jayne recently discovered a spot on her leg. What began as a spot was discovered to be a rare, aggressive cancer and within weeks she heard the doctor say, “The leg needs to go.” Our town’s premier wedding planner was stunned at the news. Jayne is a vivacious, positive thinking trooper, but this was a devastating blow. The doctor admonished her, saying, “You will die if you don’t have the leg removed. And soon. Now don’t you be stubborn about this.” “Stubborn?!” she exclaimed in her beautiful, way southern drawl. “I’ve got livin’ to do! Set the date!”
My friend David tells the story of having his second leg amputated. Due to diabetes complications, the first had been removed years earlier. Then the fevers came and the second leg burned hot with infection. There was much more David wanted to do in life. But in his thinking, to be completely without legs and stuck in a wheelchair would make him an invalid…of little use to God or others.
So for seven years, he held on to his second leg. Then sitting in a fast food drive-through line one day, David came to a place of surrender…a place of letting go. “I was exhausted from recurring fevers caused by the infected leg”, he explains. The encounter with God he had was undeniable. He heard God ask,”Why are you holding on to a seven-year anchor?” Suddenly he wasn’t afraid. Immediately he made the phone call to set up the surgery.
Sometimes we need to let go of something so we can move to the next good thing.
Maybe your spouse has left and you never thought you’d be here, starting over. Maybe budget cuts at your company have caused you to lose your job. Maybe a dear loved one has died and your life is suddenly far different than you imagined it would be.
I don’t know what you’re facing, friend, but it seems to me in each of life’s storms, there is a common denominator…something we need to let go of. And though our circumstances may be different from one another, the thing we need to let go of is the same. What is it? Control.
As you relinquish your sweaty death grip on your circumstances, something beautiful begins to happen. You are freed from the burden of trying to be God! You realize that God is doing something in your storm…something you may not fully understand. And you begin to sense that He’s at work for a good purpose in your life – and in the lives of others. It may not be the way you wanted your prayer answered, but there’s real comfort when you remember that His great love for you was settled on the cross. And because of that great love, He’s working for His glory and your ultimate good.
It was a Wednesday night at choir practice. Hearts were heavy with the knowledge that David had lost his second leg that morning. As the choir director, I asked, “Has anyone spoken with David today?” A hand went up. “How is he?” I’ll never forget the sagging shoulders, the downcast expressions as I scanned the room. Everyone there loved David. The choir member replied, “He’s busy deciding how tall he wants to be.”
A gasp…then a collective hilarious belly laugh from everyone in the choir.
The evening of Jayne’s surgery, I dialed her number with a heavy heart. “How are you, friend?” My beautiful, spunky, life-loving friend’s response? “I’m cancer-free! I traded my broken-down leg for LIFE, and before you know it, I’ll have a new, state of the art leg!” If I was stunned at the news of Jayne’s leg amputation, I was even more stunned at her victorious insight. Turns out the wedding director has a very important wedding coming up…that of her niece…and she is NOT going to miss it!
David and Jayne are two people that recognized it was time to let something go so they could move forward into something better. As David and Jayne each live life in their own bright, winsome ways, people walk away with this thought: “If someone with that kind of devastating loss can find hilarious joy in this life, maybe joy is possible for me, too.” They are making an impact for great encouragement in the lives of all who come in contact with them.
When David and Jayne relinquished control, they each lost a leg. But they gained LIFE. And ministries that reach all kinds of people in all types of situations.
David Duncan and Jayne Smith
I’d love to hear from you: What are you holding on to that God may want to exchange for something bigger?
Copyright 2016. Connie Carey is the author of “Falling UP”, a resource for grief and loss. You can reach her at http://www.conniecarey.com.