One afternoon I was sitting down to have a cup of hot chocolate with Dorothy when we started talking about the times we had to let go of things in our lives. Before too long, we had quite a list, and with it came the idea for this Langstaff Letter on “Letting Go.” Now, I am not referring to giving up sinful things but things that are right and good. Before I share some of the things that we let go of, let me share a story about one of my favorite Bible characters, Abraham, and how he had to let go.
ABRAHAM – LETTING GO
We were first introduced to Abraham in Genesis 12 when the Lord said to him,
“Get out of your country, From your family. And from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1, NKJV).
Abraham had to let go of two important things in his life:(1.) His country, (2.) his family. They were significant steps to take to leave all he knew and go out, not knowing where he was going.
In Abraham’s case, he got the first part right; He left his country. However, he didn’t get the second one totally right because he took Lot, his nephew, with him, which eventually caused problems (See Genesis 13&14).
This represented a new beginning for Abraham. God separated him from his idolatrous family to make him and his descendants the messianic nation that would bring salvation to all earth’s families (Spirit Life Bible).
It was also an adventure of faith and obedience. Hebrews 11:8&9 (NKJV) declares, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out… he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he dwelt in the land of promise…” So in Abraham’s case, “letting go” required making a new beginning. It represented taking a step of faith and obedience, trusting God while stepping out into the unknown. Abraham became the first Biblical character, “letting go” at the call of God, to step out in faith and obedience.
SOME PERSONAL EXAMPLES
Getting back to Dorothy and I and cases of “Letting Go,” let us share a few, not all, but some of them.
Our First Home
When we got married, we lived in a starter home, which I had designed, for nearly 10 years. We loved it there, but God called us into the ministry, which necessitated our “letting go” of that home. The Lord would not allow Dorothy to take any cuttings from the garden when we left (she actually found better ones in the parsonage we moved to). It was 20 years before Dorothy went back to view that house again, which we had sold to a young Christian couple. To be honest, it was a painful “letting go.”
Vision Bible College
Dorothy and I pioneered Vision Bible College in a gracious old home previously owned by Youth With a Mission. The students shared the home with us, and it was a rich but demanding time. We loved the students, and we have many precious memories. However, as the school grew, and so did the ministry, it became necessary to “let go” of the college and initially hand it over to Dr. Ken Chant, who also had a correspondence course.
After selling our starter home, we bought a holiday cottage at McMasters Beach 50 miles north of Sydney. It was in a choice position overlooking the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean and a lovely sandy beach. Years later, before we moved to America, the Lord told us to sell it and give money to the ministry. We had to “let go” of the holiday cottage, which maybe would be worth a million or more today.
In 1980, God called us to do what Abraham did; to leave our country, Australia, and move to America. It wasn’t that we didn’t love Australia; we did. We lived near the ocean, and I loved walking down and watching the waves break on Bronte Beach. But we had to let it go, for God had other plans for us. It was a big thing for us to do. It involved letting go of the ministry God had initially called us to, The Temple Trust, and handing it over to Harry Westcott.
ACTS Bible College
Just as we had done in Australia, we pioneered another Bible College here in America as part of the church that became known as “Antioch Christian Fellowship.” Our daughter Joy was in the first year of students, and our eldest daughter Beth taught in the school. Dorothy developed a small cell group ministry, and often the students would say to each other, “I need another cell group.”
We still relate to students that went through the school, but the time came when we stepped down from pastoring, which also meant letting go of the school. Today, it still exists under the leadership of Dr. Lance Wonders, who was part of the team at Antioch, as was Pastor Helmer Heckel.
Antioch Christian Fellowship
We had an incredible 14 years as pastors of the church, but we also had some hard times. In the year 2000, I was faced with the question of whether to stay or go as I was now 65 years of age. I wrestled with the decision, and I was advised by a number of brothers to let it go and focus on what is sometimes called “apostolic ministry.”
I finally made the decision when I was in Turkey, visiting some missionaries from our church. I will never forget the night I made the decision. After calling Dorothy in America, I told Chris and Claudia Roberts what I felt I should do, and I wept on Chris’s shoulder. It was painful, but I knew in my Spirit I should do it and hand the ministry over to Pastor Dale Sisam.
One of the dimensions of apostolic ministry that I entered into was, teamed up with a great group of brothers, we established a new ministry network called “Omega Team.” Dorothy, Tom Fox, and I became the executive team, and my daughter Joy became the administrator. We ran it out of the basement of our home, but I was getting old, and at the age of 77, I handed it over to Pastor Ian Peters, and it is still going today. I had to let it go and give it to a younger man.
Church on the Hill
Just when I believed I was finished in the ministry, I was asked to help a small Assembly of God church in Chaska, Minnesota. Initially, the plan was for my son-in-law David Plaisted (Joy’s husband) to be the permanent pastor. Tragically, he died in 2011. After a number of ministers were considered, we eventually handed it over to Pastor Mike Spencer. We had come to love the church and the people in the church, but at the age of 85, it was time to let it go.
Now, that is not all of the times we have had to let things go, but it is enough to demonstrate it often happened. All people face times of “letting go” of something. Sometimes it is easy; often, it is hard, even painful. It happens when you get married; you leave your parent’s home. It involves jobs, changes in location, or even a change of a church home.
Here is one more story involving Dorothy.
Over 30 years ago, Dorothy was on her way to church and running a little late. At a traffic stop, the radio was playing one of her daughter Beth’s favorite hymns, “Be Thou My Vision,” and it made her think of Beth, who was in seminary at Princeton in New Jersey at the time. She became quite emotional as she finally got to church and sat down in the front row. Soon, a lady spoke a prophetic word, “God is asking someone to let go of their adult child.” Dorothy realized that God was speaking to her. She did not know at that time that Beth was going to marry a student from Germany and relocate to Germany, where she has lived for the last 30 years. It was a case of “letting go.”
PAUL’S ADVICE ON LETTING GO
The apostle Paul had some good advice on “letting go.” Philippians 3 gives his testimony. In verse 8, he declares, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” In verses 13-14, he continues, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
When God calls someone to “let go” of something, there usually is something more in store, something better. Step out in faith and “let go and let God” do a new thing in your life.
I want to finish with two questions:
- What has God already led you to let go of?
- Is there something now that He is calling you to let go of?
Abraham had to let go, but God gave him a promise that is still being fulfilled today. Maybe God has something great for you if you will let go and let God, as you step out in faith and obedience.