Leighton Ford’s Reflection for Lent

Letting Go- Reaching Out 

This is the first post for Revealing Light: Daily Victory Over Darkness a Lent Devotional. You can learn more and download a free copy by clicking here. Reposted with permission. 

By Rev. Leighton Ford

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

The Swiss doctor Paul Tournier once compared life to a trapeze performance in a circus.

The trapeze artist grasps the bar of a swing, then launches in space, swinging back and forth in rhythm, higher and higher until the arc of the swing is at the farthest point out.

RevealingLightHis or her partner on the opposite platform watches carefully, and then with (hopefully) impeccable timing steps off also swinging higher and further until the two are in sync.

The dramatic moment comes when the first performer lets go, not able to see exactly where his partner is, and reaches out, trusting that his partner will be at just the right place, and will grasp his arms and swing him safely to the other side.

Just thinking of such a moment makes my own stomach clutch, and my breath catch! It also makes me realize how apt Tournier’s image was: Life is a matter of letting go and reaching out, again and again.

The Bible is filled with stories of this risky movement. Abraham is called to leave the security of his ancestral home and to go out by faith to a land he did not know. The disciples of Jesus leave the boats and livelihood and families, testifying “We have left all to follow you.”

Jesus himself said, “I have power to lay my life down, and to take it up again.” Notice how his letting go is tied to the certainty of resurrection.

Can you picture yourself this Lenten season as the trapeze artist or the runner, “letting go, and reaching out?”

The past year was for me in many ways a year of loss— of friends moving away, or dying; of my young associate moving on; of my brother-in-law Billy reaching his 95th birthday but growing weaker; of the traumatic death of my dog Wrangler, who has been my close companion for nine years.

As I look back over my life I can remember many painful partings, letting go of “attachments” that had seemed absolutely vital, and even wondering whether life would be whole again. But God was calling me through loss to gain, letting go of the past to enter into God’s future.

Each of us has certain “attachments” in our lives, whether habits or people, or even addictions or possessions which we clutch for security. And each of us is ever and again to “detachment” in order to trust God more.

Rev. Leighton Ford is President of Leighton Ford Ministries, which focuses on raising up younger leaders to spread the message of Christ worldwide. He has spoken to millions of people in 37 countries on every continent of the world and served from 1955 until 1985 as Associate Evangelist and later Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Rev. Ford lives in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife, Jean. They have a married daughter, Debbie, and a married son, Kevin. Their older son, Sandy, died after heart surgery in November 1981.

Reflection: 

  • I would ask you two question as you embark on your Lenten journey.
  • What do I need to let go? What unfinished business is there that is holding you back — of hurt, or dreams, or failures, or the “gains” or normal patterns of the last year? Try holding out your hands, visualize in them those concerns, close your hands and then turn them over and open them, as you do releasing them into God’s care.
  • To what do I need to reach out? To what new adventure or challenge may God be calling you? Turn your hands upward, open them and lift them, and receive at least a token of God’s grace. So this Lent- let go, reach out, let God.


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