I have been very blessed and encouraged as I have been reading Elisabeth Elliot's book, Passion and Purity. This section really stood out to me last night.
The growth of all living green things wonderfully represents the process of receiving and relinquishing, gaining and losing, living and dying. The seed falls into the ground, dies as the new shoot springs up. There must be a splitting and a breaking in order for the bud to form. The bud “lets go” when the flower forms. The calyx lets go of the flower. The petals must curl up and die in order for the fruit to form. The fruit falls, splits, relinquishes the seed. The seed falls into the ground…
There is no onging spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops. If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul.
It is easy to make a mistake here. “If God gave it to me,” we say, “it’s mine. I can do what I want with it.” No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of—if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory.
Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. Gods intention for us is, “…the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that the “loss” of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible will the losses seem.
There must be relinquishment. There is no way around it. The seed does not “know” what will happen. It only knows what is happening—the falling, the darkness, the dying. Lilias Trotter wrote those profound words quoted earlier: “The first step into the realm of giving is…not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for ‘no polluted thing’ can be offered.”