Release & Replace

By Danielle Erwin

I love the holiday season. I know it sounds Hallmark-ish and cliché, but it really is the most magical time of year! I don’t know if it’s the lights, the music or whatever else, but something about the holidays truly feels like any and everything can happen.
 But, everyone doesn’t feel this way. The holidays can be the most depressing time of year for some of us. Maybe you’re like me; single and waiting on God to introduce you to your future spouse. Or, maybe you’re dealing with a breakup and you’re just not in the holiday mood.

The holiday season (as magical as it is) brings about tons of reminders that we’re single or alone. Office holiday parties…Christmas and New Year’s engagements, family gatherings…everywhere we go, we will be bombarded with reminders of what or who we do not have. Even the media plays a role with television ads and Black Friday sales all urging us to trade what we have for something new, shiny and for a limited time, discounted.

For me, learning to be single God’s way has been the most challenging yet rewarding journey. It involved me changing my mindset from always being in a relationship with a guy, to being in a committed relationship with God. With that in mind, as I began to prepare for being single around the holidays, I wanted to be sure I didn’t trade my year-long excitement for my relationship with God for the depressing, seasonal woes the world would offer me.

Recently I stared reading “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, by Joshua Harris and the following passage has been resonating through my spirit since the day I read it;

One day a boy who has a bag of marbles proposes a trade with a little girl who has a bag of candy. The girl gladly agrees. But as the boy gets out his marbles, he realizes he can’t bear to part with some of them. Rather dishonestly, he takes three of his best marbles and hides them under his pillow. The boy and the girl make the trade, and the girl never knows he has cheated her. But that night while the girl lies asleep, the boy has no peace. He’s wide awake, pondering a question that nags at him: “I wonder if she kept her best candy, too?”

Like that little boy, many of us walk through life plagued by the question “Has God given me His best?” But the question we must answer first is “Am I giving God my best?”

Being single gives us the wonderful, yet painful opportunity to do a self-assessment. If we use our singleness wisely, we give God the chance to bring our attention to our flaws. He does so lovingly and with such purpose that we know it is only for our own good. But making these changes takes strength and a heart that is truly willing to change and let some things go. It takes true sacrifice.

In reading the story above I couldn’t help but really think about the question, “what if God hadn’t given up His best?”

Jesus was God’s best.

He was God’s only.

In my single journey one of the hardest things I had to deal with was the “if only’s.” When I was new to singleness I played the “if only” game all day - every day. “If only this…if only that…if only…if only. Now, I’m a firm believer that we should take responsibility for our actions and in turn, this means taking a share of the responsibility when negative things happen to us. It was easy for me to own up to my faults. I gladly rationed off my piece of Responsibility Pie and believe me, I was sure to take only what I agreed belonged to me.

When I tell you I carried out my share of responsibility for months…years even! All the while playing the “if only” game. It wasn’t until I began to study forgiveness that I realized the error of my ways. Psalm 103:12 tells us “He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (NLT).” The east and the west will never meet!

Imagine God sitting on His throne, looking at you with loving, forgiving eyes. You’re standing before Him carrying your load of responsibility, guilt, shame, and regret. You’re crying because you’ve been beating yourself up for so long over past mistakes, unable to forgive yourself. God looks at you, stretches out His hand and says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25, NLT).”

Like the little boy in the story, you reach into your bag of marbles and begin to hand God, one by one, all that you’ve been carrying. But unlike the little boy, you give Him every last marble. You don’t hold anything back. You’re finally giving Him your best.

How do you know when you’ve given Him everything? True sacrifice hurts. If your sacrifice doesn’t cost you something, you need to dig a little deeper and give a little more. When we think of sacrifice we tend to think of sacrificing animals. But when you sacrifice an animal, you kill it. It’s gone. You can’t get it back. Ever. 

This holiday season, I invite you to give God your best. By giving God all that you’ve been holding onto; all of your “if onlys”, all of your regret, shame, and guilt; you will be giving Him all of you. And that is your best.  I like to think of it as Release and Replace. Everything that we truly release to God, He will replace with something one thousand times better. That’s just how He works!