One day I was preparing to make a hospital visit when my phone rang and the voice on the other end said, “You need to come now. My dad is dead and my mom . . . I just can’t get her to let him go.”
It was a family I’d had the privilege of being in ministry with for a long time. They’d been a part of my kids’ lives from the very beginning and loved us as a part of their own. Getting that phone call was a devastating one . . . and I anticipated that hospital visit being a difficult one. I assumed that, “I just can’t get her to let him go” was a figurative statement, not a literal one. However, when I arrived at the hospital I learned I was wrong.
The gentleman had been in the hospital doing rehab after his final round of chemotherapy. He had been given a clean bill of health as far as the cancer was concerned, and after some rehab, he was anticipating returning home to his family/friends. That morning as he was walking the halls of the hospital, he suffered a massive heart attack and died. There was nothing they could do, despite intense efforts of the hospital, to revive him. The family gathered around the hospital bed and the wife/mom – really just would not let him go. The grief was too deep, too real. Letting him physically go was going to be the hardest thing she had to do because when that was done, the finality of death would be real.
We spent hours in that room that day. Sharing memories, stories, and finally, after several hours of intense tears, agony, and pain, the wife bent over, kissed him one final time, and let him go.
One of the hardest things in life is learning to let go.
When Jesus was teaching in the temple gates, “religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
11 “No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” (John 8: 1-11)
Those men were holding stones in their hands, ready to throw them at the woman so that she ultimately would experience death.
Jesus told them to let the sinless ones go first.
Beginning with the oldest man, they all began walking away – and we can infer that as they walked away – they dropped their stones.
What made them do that – walk away and drop the stones?
You know – love is much stronger than fault can ever be. Maybe they began to see with the eyes of Christ, which caused them to drop the stones.
When we grasp the grace that has been extended to us, it is difficult to hold onto stones. We understand that the grace that is for me is for all, not just me! So when we open up our hands to receive that grace, any “stone” that we have been holding onto falls away. Judgment is not about destruction but instead about setting things right.
Letting go is difficult . . . but what we receive when we let go is so powerful, so real. Maybe we can all grasp more grace and let go of our stones.