Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NASB
Maybe you heard about the mom who came home to her children and their friends standing in the middle of the back yard, all ooohing and aaaahing over something in the middle. When she got closer, she was horrified to see them ooohing and aaahing over several small, furry, black and white striped animals. She screamed, “Children! Run!”
They each grabbed an animal and ran!
I don’t think that was what mom meant when she said run, do you?
In similar fashion, the Lord has seen us playing with spiritual skunks—certain elements that could cause us Christians, especially as singles, some serious damage. When He tells us to run, I don’t think He meant grab what He told you to run from and take it with you as you are fleeing!
When He tells us to let go of something, He means chuck it. Drop it. Get rid of it. And really leave it alone. Don’t let your grimy, sticky fingers pick it back up again!
Everyone talks about their Bucket List these days. No one’s talking about the Chuck It List.
In a day and age of having one’s personal freedoms and rights exalted, especially in Western cultures, the Lord has not changed. He has not stopped loving us. He has not put His kingdom work on hold for us. He has not stopped being a jealous God who hates what idolatry does to us. He has not stopped watching over us and warning us of dangers, both explicit and subtle, that threaten to destroy our Christian walks and lives.
My single Christian brother,
My single Christian sister,
Are you watching—watching yourselves, guarding your hearts? Are you listening—listening to what the Spirit is telling the churches?
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Proverbs 4:23 The Message
I’ve been there. I’ve had more than my share of friendships that proved ungodly, novels that tried to pull me down, and requests to minister in arenas that I haven’t been called to work, that I have had to turn away from.
I’ve let go of several people in my life over the years, some sooner than later. Some sincere, some not so sincere, a few toxic; all of them damaging to the spiritual life I was cultivating. I had to drop them or even push them out of my life to stop the flow of spiritual and emotional poisons from leaching into my heart and life.
When I was in high school, I discovered romance novels and read them like fish drink water. About three or four years after I became a Christian, I was convicted that reading them did me no good. In fact, they were creating longings and unrealistic expectations for romance and marriage that I needed to get rid of, so I stopped reading them.
Long ago, I learned to set limits on getting involved in too many ministries. I have been made a steward, a manager, over all the resources He has given me, which includes my time, temple, energy, money, emotions, decisions, and possessions. I need to take time to minister quality self-care to myself! That includes exercise, rest, play, and time for reading and creativity and on-the-spot ministry to friends and family. If I get too involved in too many things, even at church, I can burn out. I don’t want to burn out. I want to burn for the Lord, not burn out! There’s a big difference.
I want to get to the end of my life, should the Lord tarry, grateful for what He has done in and through me. I want to be lively, full of vigor and as energetic as I can be in my spirit and mind even if body becomes decrepit. I want to go out with a joyful bang, not whimpering, whining, or bitter. My own personal informal rule these days about ministry involvement is usually no more than three ministries outside of any classes or trainings I may be taking. Currently, I serve as a church counselor, I pray at an early Sunday morning church prayer circle, and I minister through our singles leadership team. I may be able to serve as an altar prayer team member later this summer after I finish my series of training classes if I sense the Lord’s leading that this is one final ministry I can be involved in. But I’m moving carefully and slowly about this.
As you’re reading this, some things, habits, or persons may already have come into your mind as things, habits, and persons that you know you need to remove from your life permanently. Maybe you just got some new insight from the Holy Spirit that (whatever it is) needs to be gone. Or maybe you’ve known for a long time that you need to remove such-and-such but you have been reluctant to do so. Maybe you are even past the point of having to pray about it because you already know it (or they, or he, or she) has to go.
Do you have more than one thing, habit, or person to eliminate from your life? Then you have a Chuck It List!
This week is the time to do it. It’s May 1, 2016, as I post this article. It’s overdue, isn’t it, for you to get rid of whatever He’s told you to get rid of?
I think one reason why the Lord wants us to simplify our lives is it makes our lives so much cheaper and easier to manage. He wants us to find our joy and glory and peace in Him, not things, habits, and persons, because then we’re dependent on Him, not our circumstances. We are then more available for Him and for His priorities in our lives. More available for kingdom work, more accessible to those among God’s people who want to make a difference for the Lord and eternal values. They’re not here—or at least I’m not here—just to pass the time living shallow and ordinary lives, waiting for death to overtake us.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to chuck it, my friend!
Once upon a time, I planned to move overseas as a missionary and began getting rid of all sorts of stuff that I planned not to take, mostly Christmas decorations. I didn’t go and found myself having to resist the temptation to accumulate stuff again. I now have “only” one big thing—not a sin, but still an encumbrance—that I need to remove from my life to clear the way for the Lord to work more freely. Often the adjustments are difficult. I get it. But you and I must do the same thing—get rid of that which hinders.
The Christian life has been compared to a race that we are being trained and equipped to win. My single friend, we must be in it to win it or we will be conquered by opposing forces who have planted themselves on this planet and in the human race to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). One way to win this Christian race is to learn to travel light!
The 2016 Summer Olympics are starting in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, August 21. They have several racing events scheduled. I have to tell you, though I looked over a detailed list of events, I didn’t see any foot races for athletes equipped with scuba gear! It’s a silly image, but I hope it sticks with you.
The point is in order to win the Christian race, we have to travel light, even as (or especially as?) Christian singles. This definitely includes chucking things, habits, or persons that are enticing, entangling, although long-standing.
If you are not used to advocating for yourself in a healthy way and setting firm limits, this may be especially difficult for you. Be resolved to obey God and let Him mature the fear of man out of you (Proverbs 29:25). Then be encouraged to pray and move forward. Be aware that we must be trained by God’s Word, discipled by God’s Spirit, and reinforced by God’s people to travel light and unhindered by whatever distracts us so easily.
I trust and pray that you will let the Holy Spirit commence training you to do just that. Here are some scriptures that I have used to help myself move along. I hope here you will find encouragement and exhortation to sort out and formulate a plan, with God’s wisdom and empowerment, to chuck whatever it is that He’s telling you to get rid of once and for all.
Colossians 3:5-8 NKJV
5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.
Ephesians 4:21-32 NKJV
21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
BTW, getting through your Chuck It List will enable you to freely tackle God’s Bucket List for you!
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB