Letting the Toys Go
(by Chris Long)

Earlier tonight I watched "Toy Story 3" for the first time (no, I didn't see it when it was in the theater). All things considered, I found it reasonably entertaining and providing a decent closure to the series - albeit with a darker & fairly intense storyline (fine for adults but possibly concerning for young children). If you have seen the movie, then you know that there's a theme of "letting go" in it. At the end of the movie, Andy has to let go of his toys that have been in his life since childhood, as well as all he's known, and go forward into his new season of life at college. Meanwhile, the toys have to let go of Andy and move into a new season with a new child to be their owner. And Andy's mom has to let go of her son as he heads off - she has to come to grips with his leaving.

Perhaps it's just a function of things God has been working on with me recently, but this whole "letting go" thing just jumped out at me.

There come times in each of our lives where one season ends and a new season begins. Sometimes those seasons may be short, or sometimes they may be long. Certainly the transition from high school to college is one such season. But so are many others. When my dad went home to be with Jesus when I was 26, that ended a season where for all 26 years of my life, my dad had been in my life. But one day that season ended and my dad wasn't here with me anymore, and a new season began. Many of you can relate.

Sometimes a specific season can even last a REALLY long time. My grandparents were married for 74 (yes, 74!) years, but eventually that season ended with the death of my grandmother - and my grandfather entered a new season without her.

Life is always in motion and changes occurring. The more we go through life, the more we experience these shifting seasons - and all the emotions that go along with them. The challenge is to deal with them appropriately.

Many people, to be blunt, have great difficulties in the present largely as a result of past seasons in their lives - that aren't a part of their reality any more. The season has ended, but the unresolved hurt, the unforgiveness, the bitterness, the deep pain, the anger at God, the lies planted in their minds from the devil, etc. still remain. For instance, a person may have grown up in an abusive family situation, and 20 years later, still be reeling from the results of that - stunting their current progress - even though that season has been out of their life - out of their "present reality" - for over 20 years. These kinds of things are very common.

Recently, the Lord has been really working on me in my own life that there were things in my past that I needed to bring before Him & let go of to Him. There were things in my past - even to my early childhood - that I had not ever really dealt with - and until I did so - and let them go to the Lord - I would not be able to really move forward to all God has for me.

This has been a downright painful process, and yet ultimately so liberating. The truth is, I have had to (and still in process) bring certain things to Jesus in honesty & reality - sharing my honest feelings, repenting of sin where I need to, acknowledging & then rejecting the lies from satan, severing via the Spirit all negative effects from those things, and ultimately letting them go completely to Jesus.

I've had to make a choice: I can hang onto past pain or I can let it go to Jesus. If I hang onto it, it will continue to be a defining part of me and stunt my progress in moving forward with Jesus into the good plans and purposes He has for my life. I can let those things & people from the past continue to affect my reality NOW, even though those things & people are no longer in my "present reality", or I can, by an act of my will, bring those things to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to take them from me.

It's amazing the amount of "baggage" we can amass in living on this planet. I'm only 30 and I'm just now coming to grips with a lot of the "built up" stuff in my life - and there's been quite a lot. Someone that's twice (or triple) my age could easily have double or triple or quadruple the "stuff" that's never really been appropriately dealt with. And when things aren't dealt with, you get a cumulative effect - in other words, it just keeps weighing you down more and more as things keep getting added to the load.

Sometimes, like Andy in the "Toy Story 3" movie going off to college, we have to move into a new season and leave our toys behind.

The problem is, we often try to go into the new season but take all the toys too. This is bound to cause trouble. The toys were fine in the "toy season", but when the "toy season" ends, the toys need to stay behind. If we take them into a season where they don't belong, it will only muddle things and make it difficult for us to do all we are supposed to do in the new season we are in.

There are people from our past that should stay in our past. (perhaps an old love, an abusive person, a deceased person, even old friends)
There are feelings from our past that should stay in our past. (perhaps hurt, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy)
There are situations from our past that should stay in our past. (perhaps abuse, embarrassing times, hurtful times, music & movies/shows from our past, even good times)

By holding on to them, we are only hurting ourselves. We remain stuck in the past, while in the present. Which means we're not really living the present to its fullness.

Those seasons are no more - they have ended. It's time that we let them go, so that we can go forward.

Jesus is calling us onward & upward - to be moving forward with Him.

Many of you know this Scripture, but it's worth another look today:

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV2011)

We need to forget what is behind and keep straining toward the goal. Ultimately part of that goal is in fulfilling the plans & purposes that God has for us to fulfill while we are here. The forgetting of things behind is a key in this.

But I personally don't believe this forgetting is just blanket ignorance. If we don't deal with the past, all the attempts to "forget it" will likely prove futile. However, we can deal with the past by bringing it to Jesus - and spending the time with Him in prayer where we let go of our past to Him. THEN we can leave that past with Him and at least in a sense, forget it - moving forward towards all that God has for us. As I alluded to earlier, this process can be very painful to go through because it requires facing the truth of our past - leaving the dreamland and coming into reality - acknowledging what happened, etc. It definitely requires courage. But I'm convinced that the payoff in freedom it brings is worth it all!

This is often a process. Back to the movie for a second: At the beginning of Toy Story 3, Andy started by wanting to take one of the toys with him to college and keep the rest in his attic for later use. By the end of the movie, though clearly hard for him, he was willing to let go of all of them. Likewise, the toys also originally were not willing to let go of Andy, but by the end of the movie, the realization of the need to move on became more apparent.

I have found this same process at work in my life. We know we need to "let go" of X, but that seems too hard. So we start by letting go of parts of X, or maybe other things surrounding X. And once we do that - similar to peeling back the layers of an onion - we move deeper into the real issues we need to address. The important thing is just to persistently keep at it.

I'm still in this process, so pray for me.

And if you're finding yourself hindered by your past (and most people are, whether they realize it or not - it's amazing how much of the "negative things" we do can be traced to things in our past), then might I invite you to join me in this process?

Let's leave the "toys" behind and step into the glorious freedom of Jesus Christ, where we are completely free from the negative junk of our past. Let's bring it all to Jesus and leave it all with Him.

With much love,
Chris Long
Laugh & Lift ministries
http://www.laughandlift.com

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This is version 1.1 of this document (December 26, 2010).
Previous versions: 1.0 (November 10, 2010).
This document is provided as a ministry outreach via Laugh & Lift. http://www.laughandlift.com

This article is Copyright by Chris Long 2010. You may use this article for free for any purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, as long as you use the entire text and that all text, including this notice, is not modified or removed in any fashion. For any other usage, you must obtain written permission from the author. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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