Letting Go, and Letting God

January 20, 2014 | 6 comments

Sure, the handwriting is on the wall, but it’s also right at our feet, in big capital letters.


Those were the two words painted on the San Franciscan cobblestones, right there on the Powell-Market line.

I was waiting in line with friends to ride a cable car when those words fluttered up from the stone, feathering down in my white-knuckle-prone self. I tilted my camera.


“Let go. LET GO.”

I believe this in my head: that those two words are a way to live a life of wild freedom, of radical trust in God. But I am still learning to actually and practically believe them in my heart. I also need to believe the words with my hands. Because here’s the truth:

I have been known to grip tight to what I love.

While standing right there, with pigeons strutting across the rails half a country away from my Iowa, I could boldly declare that “letting go” is my philosophy.

But I know I’ve lived otherwise. I’ve often thought that the best way to love a person is to hold on, vice-grip tight.

Letting go has always seemed — if I’m honest — dangerous.

Because, really, how does one let go of the child growing up too fast? Or the wayward teen who barges out of the house, slamming the door behind him, spewing hateful words? How do you let go of the mounting debt? Or the hurt inflicted by inattentive spouse? And what of the friend who might never come to know the truth of Christ’s teachings? How do you let go when the doctor delivers the terminal diagnosis?

Me? I’ve had trouble letting go of far lesser things — like too-small jeans and silly grudges.

But the handwriting is on the wall and on the ground, like a God-incidence begging to be read by the whole world:  Let. Go.

I learned later that the words, “Let Go,” are painted on the cobblestones as a reminder for the cable-car gripman to release the cable at just the right time. If the gripman fails to “let go,” he could inflict serious damage to the cables.

The gripman has to trust. He has to let go. Or he’ll make a mess of things. (Note to self.)

cable car san francisco

Unlike the gripman, I don’t always read the signs.

What if I could actually — as they say — “let go and let God?”

And what might that mean for those we love? I’ve got some stuff I need to let go of today, and maybe that’s why I’m replaying my visit to San Francisco.

I know that it’s a wild and radical leap of faith, to open up the hands. And I’m quite frankly, terrified.

If we let go of the string, a helium balloon floats up and away.  If we let go of the leash, the dog bolts. If we let go of the steering wheel, a car eventually veers of course. If we let go of the rope, we fall fast.

But in the upside-down Kingdom of God, letting go is a linchpin. I think now of Jesus, who voluntarily let go of His place in Heaven, hurling down through space and time to save a world begging for life.

Jesus Christ let go of Heaven, to hang on to us.

And he never lets go of us.

by | January 20, 2014 | 6 comments


  1. Laura Rath

    Hi Jennifer,
    God gave me “Let go” as my one word for this year. It scared me at first. I knew what He was telling me, and I. Didn’t. Like. It. I prayed and asked if this was it, because, you know, maybe I misunderstood. But, He didn’t give me something else. Instead, what I discovered was that He was giving me time to get used to it. In a day or two, it didn’t scare me anymore. And…I was starting to like it – not necessarily what it meant, but that it was personal, like He was reminding me to let go and let Him take care of it and work it out His way. I shouldn’t be surprised that I think of it at times when I’m trying to make something happen or I’m clinging too tightly. And with my letting go comes peace. Letting go means trusting Him and not stressing over what I can’t control.

    • dukeslee

      Good word for the year, Laura. In important ways, it fits with your series this year.

  2. ro elliott

    Yes…yes…my phrase for 2014…yield and go…sometimes I feel like I am holding a penny tight in hand .afraid to let go…instead of opening my hand and trusting the God whose storehouses are full ..how waits with …anticipatory love…to give us life and an abundant life at that. I am with you Jennifer…letting go and letting God!!!

    • dukeslee

      I’ve held pennies, and missed true treasure. Thank you, Ro, for hanging out here on the cobblestone street with me. Letting go …

  3. Sandra Heska King

    San Francisco. Our honeymoon destination in 1971. The first time I ever flew. Talk about white knuckles. Especially when we had to circle the airport in Detroit on our return to be sure the landing gear had come down as bells and ringers were saying it hadn’t. I’ve had to let go of a lot since then–including way too many pairs of too-small jeans.

  4. Paula Gamble

    Wow! I need to hear this over and over. It’s so hard for me to surrender and ‘let go’. I want to hold on to what I think is safe and will love and protect me, but when I do open my hands and unclench my fists, I find new freedom and a lightness that really is liberating – because Jesus holds me and gives me what I really need – which is the only thing we all need – Himself. “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” I know I have a whole lot more letting go to do, but in His time, He gently asks us to give the next thing we’re grasping onto to Him so He can take us by the hand and lead us on.



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