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If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if
you give up your life for me, you will find it.
- Matthew 10:39
Think of a late November tree. Picture it standing strong in the afternoon sunlight, the deep red leaves practically blazing. The almost winter winds blow strong, and they silently steal some of the leaves from the branches. The branches don’t cling to their leaves. They don’t fight the winds. Instead, the tree simply lets go. It’s as if deep down it knows that this is exactly what is supposed to happen. And just like that, everything that adorns the tree is stripped away.
But through the letting go, the tree finds life again. It allows the dying leaves to fall, and it embraces the coming winter to prepare for the spring, where it will have life once again.
I am nothing like this tree. I lack the willingness to let go, and I cling to the parts of me that are no longer living. I tend to think that just because I find something beautiful, it is beneficial. Where I’m going wrong is in forgetting that God’s plan is always so much greater than my plan. I let the winds of change knock me off my feet and I chase after the things that I believe to be best for me. I see the selfish parts of my heart begin to get the best of me, and my once beautifully colored leaves begin to wither and die while still attached to my branches. Nothing new can grow if I refuse to let go.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me --- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:8-9
The mindset presented in this verse is what will ultimately enable our hearts to let go of the withering leaves that we have come to treasure so dearly. It is the mindset that will allow us to follow what is presented in Matthew 10: losing ourselves for the sake of bringing Him praise. When our thoughts are focused on the things of God rather than things of this world, we become more Kingdom minded. When we become more Kingdom minded, we lose the desire to serve ourselves, but rather we desire to seek after all that He is.
True, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise.
Seek these things out daily. Make it a priority to find these things in day to day life. I want to be so filled with a longing for our God that I begin to desire to see the parts of me that are no longer living stripped away. Like the transition from fall to winter, I want to lose anything that is not of Him. Isaiah 55 speaks to how God’s thoughts and plans for us are so far above anything that we could ever imagine. The plans that we create for ourselves can’t even begin to come close to what He has in store. So by dying to ourselves, to our own selfish desires, we are able to catch a glimpse of the fulfillment we can find in Him.
Defining something as beautiful doesn’t always guarantee that it’s beneficial. Some of the things that we treasure most are leaves that have long withered away, desperately waiting to be released so that new life can begin to grow.
This world holds so many things that appear to be worthy of our pursuit and of winning our hearts. But when you encounter these things, I encourage you to consider whether or not they fit into the verses from Philippians 4. Are they eventually going to add to your collection of withering leaves, or are they going to encourage new life?
Seek God in the letting go. When things begin to look unfamiliar and your branches appear seemingly bare, find peace in knowing that losing yourself is never a waste. It’s all part of bringing Him praise.
Through the letting go, we discover more than we ever dreamed would be possible.
1. What withered leaves are still clinging to your branches? What in your life is keeping you from completely bringing Jesus praise? Take a moment to really pray it over and search your heart. Pray for God to bring these things to light. Write them down to serve as a reminder to begin the process of letting go.
2. How can you best remind yourself to stay Kingdom minded? What will keep your heart in pursuit of all things lovely and worthy of praise? Maybe it’s journaling reminders, or writing a verse in a place you will be sure to see it every day. Whatever it is that works best for you, I encourage you to do more of that. Remind yourself of the purpose in dying to ourselves for the sake of bringing Him praise.
Father God, we praise You for Your intricately designed plans that You create. Thank you for detailing each one specifically for what we need. We know that in You we have the ability to let go completely. To surrender, and to lose ourselves for the sake of Your will. Draw us closer to You, God. Give us a fire to be Kingdom minded, to die to ourselves and to chase after the things of your heart. Make us brave, and remind us that our life truly begins in You.
Want to read more? The devotion above is an excerpt from In Every Season: Devotions by Madison Klaiber. Click HERE to purchase.
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