Football season is over for the East Atlanta Mustangs… and what a season it was! 5-0 to start. A dramatic win over their rival. A couple of tough losses, but finishing the season with strong wins, and earning a spot in the play-offs. Three games later, the Mustangs were crowned the GFC League Champions! It was truly the kind of season every high school football player dreams of!
Last Friday, the players and families gathered for a banquet to celebrate all that had been accomplished. There were cheers and celebrating during highlight reels… trophies awarded… pictures taken… laughter and joking… and much gratefulness on the part of the coaches for the hard work all year long. It was a wonderful time to relive this season of triumphs.
But after nearly three hours of whoopla, it was time to go home. I gathered up the camera bag, grabbed our memorabilia, said my good-byes, and with Jason and Leia on my heels, headed for the van. Clif and Laura quickly joined us, and we all got settled and waited for Ryan. Five minutes. Then ten. A few more. As we sat there in the dark waiting for him, it occurred to me that leaving was a little more difficult for him than it was for the rest of us. He had just come to the end of his high school football career. There would be no more practices. No more games. No more parties or celebrations. Friendships that he’d forged on the field would now slip into the background of his life. It’s no wonder that he wanted to stay around a little longer. It was the closing of a chapter. But, no matter how much he wanted to cling to that moment, it was time to say good-bye and leave.
That’s a hard reality for a teenage boy who would like to hold on just a little longer to a championship football team, but it’s a harder reality for people who face letting go of things that are a part of them. Often we can make a great case for why we should emotionally stay put, but sometimes it can be destructive to linger too long, especially when we hold onto damaging relationships or emotions. When we can’t let go, we get mired in patterns that make it difficult to begin new adventures with the Lord. That’s why it’s important to know and, metaphorically, be willing to pack up and leave when the time comes.
“Come now; let us leave.” ~ John 14:31
A recent sermon reminded me of this verse spoken by Jesus at the end of the His final observance of the Passover feast with His disciples. Christ’s attitude during the evening must have been subdued as He sought to prepare His friends for the events ahead. It could have been very easy for him to want to avoid the agony and pain that He would face only a few hours from then. The comfort and camaraderie of that evening with his closest companions no doubt presented a tempting retreat. Just a little while longer. Maybe another day or two wouldn’t make any difference. But Jesus knew there was work to be done, and timing was crucial. It was time to go… and so, He deliberately got up and left.
Letting go of things and moving on is hard. There is just no other word for it. Even when you know it’s what you’re supposed to do, it can be gut-wrenching. But for believers, it’s critical that we stay on God’s timetable and move when He says move. If we hold on too long, we end up wasting precious time and missing opportunities that may be right in front of us. In Jeremiah 29:11, God reminds us of His personal involvement in our lives. The familiar words go like this: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We can trust that God is active and working to bring about His best for us. However, we can miss His best if we’re not sensitive to His leading. We need to be careful to follow Him precisely, and that means when it’s time to leave, we need to get up and go.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven…
As you gather with your family this Thanksgiving, take time to thank God for the many blessings He’s given you. Friends. Family. Talents. Provision. Treasured Memories. And so much more. But also, take this occasion as an opportunity to deliberately listen for His voice as He guides you to the next step on your journey with Him.