A POPULAR spiritual phrase I first encountered when I was a teenager was “Let go and let God.” Even today I still hear people using these words as a way of comforting or giving advice to others.
If you are angry because of some injustice, let go of that anger. God will take justice for you. If you are sad because of some misfortune, let go of that sadness. God will make you happy.
If you are disappointed because a broken promise, let go of that disappointment. God will give you hope. He always keeps his promise. If you are confused and cannot understand what is happening, let go of that confusion. God will make things clear to you in his own time and wisdom. And so on.
While the above words would probably make a pretty good sermon, they are at best, a temporary reprieve. Do not get me wrong. I do think some people have been genuinely touched and healed by those words. It has allowed them to move on or move forward (which are pretty popular terms these days).
A few weeks ago, I mentioned Reverend Arnel Tan in my column and was delighted to receive an email from him. Let me tell you another story about him. Maybe he will send me another email.
Arnel was officiating a child-dedication ceremony where my wife was a ninang (godmother) and my good friend Arthur Yap (who is a pastor and president of Davao Christian High School) also stood as a ninong (godfather).
During the sermon, as he was advising the parents on the roles of the godfathers and godmothers, Arnel saw both Arthur and I sitting close to each other. He said, “You have a complete lineup here. If you want your child’s faith to grow, you go to Arthur. But if you want her faith to be challenged, you go to Andy.”
So let me challenge you to not just let go and let God but to let go of God. To let go and let God is a temporary relief to a deep-seated longing within you. The admonishment helps you postpone that longing and you hope that the answer will come later in your life, or even at the moment of death. It is like wishing for a magic band-aid to heal all your scrapes and bruises. It is like hoping for a divine father to always be there to fight your battles and to provide what you want and need.
There is nothing wrong with such desires, but if we keep indulging them, we will never grow. There is an old saying that goes “When a father helps his infant child, all the world smiles. When a father helps his grown-up child, all the world weeps.”
(Of course, this phrase also applies to mothers). As a parent, one of my deepest desires is for my children to no longer need me; for them to be able to think on their own; to handle their own problems; to earn their own money; to solve their own problems. This is how nature is. The eaglet gets kicked out of the nest after some time. The lion cub is no longer fed but taught to hunt on its own.
Why do people hang on to a concept of God that cripples instead of enables them? “How do I find God?” asked the disciple. “Let go of God,” said the master. “How do I do that?” said the disciple. “It is like letting go of air,” said the master.