“Then He walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, He threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if there is any way you can deliver me from this suffering, please take it from me. Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill your plan for me.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Him.” Matthew 26:39 (TPT)
The sacrament of letting go and dying to self is a visible sign of invisible grace, a beautiful acknowledgement of the redeemed inner life coming to expression in the outer life. It is a heart attitude of submissive consent, total surrender, and radical abandonment to God’s will. It is the sacrificial and costly offering of ourselves to God, Who created us in love and longs to recreate us in mercy. It requires absolute trust and our consent to let God be God in the present moment, no matter what it contains; and it is a choice we have to make over and over again.
We must be open to God’s working in circumstances which are often painful and be prepared to accept what happens. Until we let go of our resistance, denials, illusions of control, and negative thought patterns and accept our reality, we can never know truth or freedom. God lives in what is and, therefore, we must live in what is. Our work is to become whole people in the world of our reality.
Dying to the life the Big I craves and coming into the abundant life of Christ enables us to live into our longing rather than trying to resolve it, and to enter the new spaciousness of our emptiness. Dying to what we want, when we want it, how we want it is so hard, because we love what we desire and what we possess, and we continue to believe we can control, fix, and change our circumstances. We must let go into enduring trust in God’s love and mercy that allows us to be just as we are and our situation just as it is.
There is nothing in the universe that is good enough and strong enough for us to trust in completely—nothing but God. It is only through consciously entrusting ourselves to the immediate presence of God with us in every situation that we can hope to feel safe enough to begin entering into this sacrament of letting go. Whether we feel God’s presence or not, we can choose to act in accordance with it. And because God is never absent from us, trusting is always possible.
This process of trusting, dying to die to the Big I, and letting go is the work of God’s grace; and grace always leads to radical freedom and gratitude. Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude. Gratitude claims the truth that all of life is pure gift, the gift of Love to be celebrated with joy. The beauty and freedom that flows out of gratitude is the gift of letting go. We no longer want to possess or hold on to anything. We are free now to love, to be compassionate; free of our selfish, self-centered self. To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us; and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His Love, every moment of existence is a grace. Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay, but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.
A further reflection from Betty in The Hidden Life Awakened:
The transformation we all long for occurs in the intimate embrace of our Divine Lover, in the still, hidden places of our soul. It is here that we become real—the authentic self that God created. Becoming real is an unlearning, the process of emptying ourselves of all that we have clung to and been conditioned to by our culture. As we gradually do this painful work of emptying ourselves of our ego, illusions, perceptions, and aversions, we begin to see Reality, and in seeing Reality we become real. In the emptying, we are creating a holy vacancy in our souls allowing God to fill it with Himself. We are detaching from our mind’s control over our lives just long enough to open a tiny gap where Spirit can touch spirit, where we can begin to hear the voice of Love speaking to us. It is in this holy vacancy that we encounter Love, listen to the voice of Love, and celebrate the presence of Love. This Love is the center and source of our spiritual life and this Voice has a new and deeper message, one we must begin to trust. As we allow this holy vacancy—this little pool that is our hearts—to be filled up with the River of Living Water, our lives will naturally begin to overflow in blessing to others.The Hidden Life Awakened (200)
Love gently comes in, enlarging our soul and filling the emptied space with the Spirit of God, the fullness of Christ. More and more, as we empty ourselves of self, we experience God’s presence surrounding us. It is something beyond expression, a sweet moment of belonging to everything, a sense of the fullness of God’s love being returned to us by every created thing: the people in our life, the trees, the flowers, and all of the earth. This is the abundant life, the Divine Spirit of Love filling our emptiness. We can live in this place now—we don’t have to wait for heaven. The choice is ours, right here, right now.