Monkey Bars

The Lord has been known to use some unusual word pictures to speak to me. One that has stayed with me for several years involves monkey bars. You know the kind – a horizontal, metal, ladder-like structure.

Most of us have experienced swinging on monkey bars. By grasping and letting go of the rungs you swing from one end to the other. If you fail to let go with one hand you can become stuck in the middle with no momentum to continue moving. What keeps you moving forward is letting go. Letting go is what the Lord has been teaching me.

In 2005 my husband and I believed the Lord directed us to move to Iowa. We’d both lived for more than 40 years in the same county in central Ohio. All of our friends and family were in Ohio. When moving day came, by a total act of faith, we watched the moving van leave our driveway and head for Iowa. We had no address on the other end. The driver would take three days to make the trip and we trusted that we would have an address by the time the truck arrived in Des Moines.

Our family left the next morning to make the eleven hour drive. We believed God had shown us the home He had for us but the details were not coming together. My husband was on the phone most of the day with the owner, realtors, and attorneys as we drove across Indiana and Illinois. Just as we were crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa the deal began to come together. We would have an address to direct the moving van and more important, we would have a place to sleep that night. We arrived late in the evening and the eight of us slept together on the floor in the living room of what was to become our new home.

Now, what does all of this have to do with monkey bars? What the Lord has shown me through this adventure is that life keeps moving and you must be willing to let go in order to move on. We all have different things that require letting go but what I learned was that most things fall into four categories.

Relationships – We need to be willing to let go of our relationships as we know them. Not cutting ties with the people we love, but allowing God to mold our relationships into something different.  When we left Ohio we left a son and daughter-in-law who’d just announced that our first grandchild was on the way. We had to let go of what could have been and let God do what He knew was best.

Expectations – This is a real challenge for me. I always seem to set myself up and then I get disappointed. The Father’s plan is always the best one.

Successes – Sometimes we get stuck in an area because we’ve had success there and are comfortable. I know I had church and 4-H, among other things, that I didn’t want to let go. But God promises to do something new if we will let Him.

Failures – Sometimes we get trapped by our failures or what we perceive as failures. For example, I don’t feel like I make friends easily. I struggle with a fear of rejection and sometimes feel like I am on the “outside” of things. This is an area where I believe God asked me to let go and allow Him to give me a fresh start. He has been faithful and I have experienced blessings in this area beyond anything I could have imagined.

So, how am I allowing God to continue to use this word picture in my life?  I am hanging on the rungs with both hands while learning to let go and move on. God is good. He won’t let me fall. He’ll give me the strength to hang on…and keep going.

Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”