By Melissa McLaughlin

That final moment when it’s time to leave can be difficult. Maybe it was the day you left home to live on your own. Or maybe the day you left for college. The day you left one job to start another. The day you moved out of your old neighborhood to head off for new places. The lump catches in your throat. The tear wets your cheek. The memories replay in your mind.

Leaving stirs up a jumble of feelings. Excitement, anticipation, joy. Sadness, disappointment, loss. Leaving serves as a bookmark in the pages of our lives, separating one chapter from another. Whether for good or for bad, leaving is always memorable and at times something we prefer to avoid.

We especially drag our feet when God is asking us to step out from the old, into the new.

Why? Because leaving also means leaving the comfortable, the familiar, the easy. We can go about our day in neutral because we follow our same old routines, habits and patterns without any thought or deep reflection. Walking a path we know by heart from daily repetition. Staying where we are is just plain easier.

However, God is living, active and moving and so God is always asking us to move, stretch and leave.

We were created by God to change. Like the seed planted in the ground, which sprouts new life, then changes as it develops, so do our bodies grow, mature and age. Even if we attempt to hold back time, we will leave the days of childhood and enter into adulthood. We leave our youthful thoughts and grow in wisdom and understanding, skills and experiences. By God’s design, we must leave what we know and continue moving forward in life.

God calls us to come. God calls us to go. God calls us to leave.

When Jesus said, “Come follow me,” in Matthew 4:19-20, for the disciples it meant leaving what they knew. It means the same for us.

When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” in Matthew 28:19-20, for His followers it meant leaving what they knew. It means the same for us.

When God called Abraham with these words, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you” in Genesis 12:1, it is similar to Jesus’ call for us today. When Jesus bids us to follow, we must leave our old lives and follow Him in faith.

What is God calling you to leave today?

A ministry where you have completed your task or calling.

A vacation plan in exchange for a short-term mission trip.

A leisure activity that keeps you from reading the Bible.

A dream for yourself that is not God’s will for you.

A relationship that hinders you from God’s best.

A job or home in order to take a new direction.

The sinful or unhealthy habit.

The bitterness of past hurts.

The negative thinking.

Your old life.

Like it or not, we cannot remain spiritually stagnant. Either we are moving toward God or we are drifting away, because stagnancy allows the world, our own sin and Satan to pull us from God. And that they will.

God’s gift to us is to keep calling us onward, homeward, heavenward. Though it may mean pressing on, pushing forward, one small step at a time, God seeks for us to know Him more, to receive more of His love and to be used by Him more fully. Christ gave Himself up for us, that we could receive this most sacred gift.

When we are weary, may we hear God’s gentle whisper,

“Come, follow me.”

“Go forward, just one more step.”

“Leave, let go, release your grip on this world, just a little bit more.”

“I will be with you always.”

God calls us to leave our old life daily. For Christ Himself is our greatest treasure, now and for all eternity.

Holy Spirit, give us the desire and strength to leave what we must, so we can run with abandon into the arms of Jesus!

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 28:20b – And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Additional Resources:

When Jesus Let Go of Heaven By Melissa McLaughlin

One Thing You Lack By Melissa McLaughlin

Holding Loosely By Melissa McLaughlin

Leaving Sermon By Jim Cymbala