September 3, 2009
By Rev Ed Hird
I often notice car bumper stickers saying ‘One Day at a Time’, and ‘Take it Easy’. One of my favorite bumper stickers is ‘Letting Go and Letting God’. Popularized by the 12-step movements. this phrase reminds us that excessive striving and drivenness is damaging to our health, our families, and our inner lives.
Our North American culture is becoming more and more frantic and fear-bound, especially in our shaky economic and political context. Is it little wonder that A.A. teaches us that the first step to sanity is to admit that we are powerless over our problems and that our lives have become unmanageable? This admission of powerlessness is very humbling to our ego. It is a real death to our illusions of grandiosity and immortality.
The 3rd Step to sanity is making a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. The heart of Step 3 is ‘Letting Go and Letting God’. Most of us put enormous energy into remaining in control of our own private lives. The idea of surrendering control to anyone, let alone God, can be enormously threatening. Yet the act of surrender can be the most healing step that we may ever take.
The heart of spirituality, in fact, is surrendering our will and lives to God who really cares for us. As Jesus was hanging in agony on the cross, he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Such a surrender can be our choice one day at a time. Either we commit our lives daily into God’s hands, or we commit our lives into our own hands. Either God ends up at the centre of our lives, or our self ends up at the centre. There is no greater disease than finding one’s self at the centre, the essence of self-centeredness. As Dr. E. Stanley Jones puts it, anything that leaves you at the centre is off-centre.
Self-centeredness is rather like bad breath or body odor. Everyone knows about it but yourself, though you can certainly detect in other people. I have discovered that the heart of my problems in life is not usually other people. Rather it is my own self-centeredness. As a teenager, I tried to live life seeking my own personal happiness. I was never unhappier. I have learnt the hard way that happiness is a by-product of serving others and caring for others in a Christ-like way.