Sure, the handwriting is on the wall, but it’s also right at our feet and written all over the world in big capital letters.
Those are the two words painted on the cobblestone of San Francisco, right along the Powell-Market line, and far away from home.
I’m waiting in line with friends to ride a cable car when those white words jump out at me from the street. I do a double-take, tilt my head while I take it in.
“Let go. Let go.”
I say it over and over to myself. I do 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. I have been known to white-knuckle what I love.
I’m a stubborn student.
I snap a photo. I need to capture the image, like it might be another way to make the truth stick. I can stand here on the West Coast, reading those two words with my head cocked to the side, and watching pigeons strut across the rails. While standing right here, I can boldly declare that this 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 a tad risky, at best, maybe even 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, like a God-incidence begging to be read by the whole world: There are words, right here, splayed out like a reminder to live it real and free — to actually “let go” when the stubborn part of you begs to hang on for dear life.
I discover 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.
I admit it. I have been a gripman, white-knuckling the things and people I love. I don’t always read the signs.
But what would if we did? What if we could actually let go and let God?
What might it mean for those we love?
I know that it’s a wild and radical leap of faith, to open up the hands.
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 unseen world, where matters are turned upside-down, letting go is the only thing that has ever made any sense. I think now of Jesus, who temporarily let go of His place in Heaven, hurling down through space and time to save a world begging for life.
Jesus Christ let go.
Jesus Christ gets it.
We really can trust Christ to keep his hands on the proverbial wheel, even if we don’t like where the ship is headed. We can trust God to maneuver the life, knowing He is eternally faithful even if it looks like our whole world looks like it has just crash-landed.
We can let go of ropes, knowing that He will surely catch us, this God who promised to never let go of us, His beloved.
I read the writing on the wall, and at my feet, and all over the world — and right here, like a promise in large white letters, a splash of glory on a San Francisco street.
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