The Practice of Relinquishment
In her fantastic sermon last week Sarah Smith distinguished between relinquishment and resignation. The latter, she suggested, is characterized by a certain passivity, while relinquishment is a more hopeful and active posture. It involves expectation that God is at work and good. In light of God’s kingdom coming to fruition in Jesus Christ, relinquishment is a more faith-filled posture.
This past week has involved my waiting for a number of different things; waiting for a particular email, anticipating a specific discussion, or looking forward to an event or outcome. That waiting has often been difficult for me. I’m used to instantaneous responses and access according to my desires. As Tom Petty sang, the wait is the hardest part.
In following Jesus, in walking the way of the cross, and growing in spiritual maturity, there is a lot of waiting involved. Rhythms of worship and spiritual disciplines don’t often involve instant gratification. The work of reconciliation and mission, of participation with God in mission, takes time. Consolation in suffering doesn’t happen overnight.
That our expectations and agenda don’t set the timetable means we can respond in resignation or relinquishment. As the more active and hopeful response relinquishment in relation to waiting means trusting that the Lord works as we wait, it means trusting that He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in our lives and in creation through Jesus Christ. It means attentiveness to what God might be doing through the Holy Spirit even in our waiting for what seems most important and central to us. It might mean setting aside distractions and everything we use to fill in our waiting to listen and follow.
In your waiting, for the next thing, for the thing you’ve been longing for, what might hopeful, active, and faithful relinquishment to Jesus and his agenda look like for you?