It’s Time to Leave

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

39 thoughts on “It’s Time to Leave”

  1. Had to laugh at God’s timing of this post Melissa. He so often confirms His word through so many interesting ways that we are constantly amazed. Today is no exception.

    We have lived in a small motel room for 2 years now. Before that our homeless wilderness journey included a lot of moves. 40 months, 82 moves. You get used to moving in the wilderness. 🙂 This motel room has been the most stable we have been and we are thankful for the warmth and steady food for the past 2 years. However…

    The organization that is supporting us is going through hard times and our funds are drying up. God has given us dreams that indicate change is afoot. From a completely natural perspective we know the drill. If our funds continue to be less than the cost of the room we’ll be homeless again on October 18. We are used to this and it is no big deal but we don’t believe this is what will happen.

    Here is faith. After suffering so much with homelessness and poverty we are accustomed to lack. There is no fear for we know that God will provide as He always does but this time is different. We believe that God has something much, much bigger for us. To leap into the destiny He has prepared us for over these last 12 years. We believe that what is coming is a union with Him and provision that we have sacrificed everything for. It is right on our doorstep, even though we cannot see it yet.

    We confirm your post that yes, this is indeed the time for change. A time to leap out into the unknown again, trusting in the only One who we know will provide. It is very exciting and challenging. For the fist time since Oct. 11, 2011 when we were first made homeless we are looking forward to being moved by God into something new. Your post today only gave us more encouragement for what God is doing and telling us. Thank you.

    Blessings to you Melissa! 🙂

    • Dear Homer, what an extraordinary story of the Lord working in your life. I am humbled that the Holy Spirit used my small words to point you to Christ, the Word, during this difficult time. I certainly know from experience that suffering can bring us closer and more desperate for Christ. And that is a great gift. I pray that you and your family will experience His closeness through it all. I believe that the Lord will provide. He does not always provide in ways we prefer, but He does care for us, day by day. I am lifting you and your family in prayer right now. May the Holy Spirit open doors for you that no man can shut. In Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless you and yours, Homer!

    • Dear Amy, Thank you for the kind words. I am truly humbled and grateful if God could use this post to meet you where you are. May the Holy Spirit illuminate, inspire and infuse His power into your heart and mind, to bring about the inner changes you need, for His glory and your good. God bless you, dear sister!

  2. I love what you say here:
    “God is living, active and moving and so God is always asking us to move, stretch and leave.”
    Yes, if He is moving, and we are following, we must be moving, changing, leaving, coming, going as He leads. Thanks for the list. I like the imagery of leaving a PLACE of negativity/sin. It makes it seem more active and perhaps easier to remember and succeed.

    • I understand completely, Nancy. Even when we know God is positioning us and preparing us to move with Him to accomplish His plans, closing a chapter of our lives is very emotional. I’m lifting you in prayer right now. May the Holy Spirit release the needed resources and make straight your paths, as you follow Christ with your life. May the goodbyes include hugs with the tears. God bless you!

  3. I love that one of the situations you mentioned that God might be calling us to leave is a ministry where we’ve fulfilled His purpose for us. Those can be some of the hardest moments to leave. Because they are GOOD things, and Satan can make us feel guilty for leaving. But if we’ve already fulfilled God’s purpose, we will only drain our spirits by remaining. Thanks for this encouragement today!

    • Oh Emily, thank you for sharing your thoughtful insights! Truly, the hardest things to leave are those places where God has blessed us and used us well. Sometimes He will maintain us in those ministries for a long, long time. Other times, it is only for a season, as we accomplish a given goal. How hard to step forward, when we leave people and ministries behind that we love. May Jesus shine brighter, even in these places, that we would seek His face, come what may. God bless you!

  4. When the pastor of 38 years at my church stepped down for God to raise up his replacement, he said- “All pastors are temporary.”
    Everything we are in this life and do in this life is temporary. It is hard to leave things at times like a career or a ministry, but everything is temporary. Our real place of permanency is in heaven.

  5. Melissa, this is such a needed message for all of us. It’s easy on our faith journey to get comfortable with the familiar and where we feel deeply rooted and planted in ministry. I like how you said the disciples had to leave all they knew to follow Jesus. Why do we think it should be any different for us. We’ve heard it said, “I don’t like goodbyes.” I’m not sure anyone does. But the best part of saying goodbye to situations like the familiar, ministries that have run their course, our former life, and so on…is there are new “hellos” awaiting us. But we’ll never get there when we hang onto our comfort zones and refuse to “leave.”

    • Oh Karen, I love your insight about goodbyes leading to new hellos! May we be so closely in tune with the Lord Jesus that His heart’s desires are our heart’s desires, His goals become our goals. His heart is pulsing with life and love. May we not become so comfy-cozy that we become numb and deadened to His daily call. Holy Spirit, help us move with you, minute by minute!

    • Dear sister, you are right, letting go of our mistakes and walking forward in the forgiveness that Jesus has won for us is a huge step. And we must. Or satan will keep us trapped in our past. Let us move forward in overflowing gratitude for all Jesus has done to forgive us and leave the past behind!

  6. Our relocation at the beginning of 2018 is still something I haven’t quite adapted to. We’d been at our old place nearly twenty years, and I knew who I was, what I did, who my friends were, where to go, how to get there, etc., etc. I’m surprised I’m still sort of flailing about that move. I need to let it go.

    I had a long drive today and talked all of this out with the Lord and recognized the need to be where I am, to not continue to stay in this ambiguous place of not knowing where I belong, to let it go. The wonderful people at our church here have made it clear that I have a place among them. I’ll be teaching a part of our women’s conference this year.

    My husband and I feel like Abraham and Sarah right now. We are tent dwellers. Most importantly, more important than all the changes we will surely face in our final years, we know that our anchor is in Christ, and our eternity is with him. The Lord encouraged me today, to remember that he is my Home, and I’ll never have to leave him or that Home.

    • Dear Melinda, I feel for you. That is a huge change after 20 years of knowing where and who you are. Thank you for sharing this real life example from your life. May your faith be refined like pure gold. May this time of unfamiliarity cause your heart to press in closer to Christ, for as you say, He Himself is our home. As you draw near to Jesus, may you feel you are home, even now. Bless you and yours, dear sister!

  7. With this wonderful blog (and they are ALL wonderful) , I am reminded of the life I left behind me, and how I went from the clutches of Satan to the loving arms of God. Until then, I never knew what pure happiness really was.

    • You speak such truth, Jimmy. Out of darkness, into His marvelous light! Because of Jesus, we are rescued from hell, cleansed of every sin and have a place prepared for us in heaven. Such real peace, such real hope, such assurance! Thank you, Jesus, for drawing us from our old lives. Help us turn away and draw ever closer to you, day by day.

  8. I know this is right. During my early years I had a hard time with change. The Lord wanted me to change some things and it hurt really bad but now I find it easier.

    • I know what you mean, Lisa! Change is never easy. As we grow closer to Christ, He reveals new areas for us to change, so that we can look a little more like Him every day. One thing I have experienced, is that He keeps me humbled through exposing the need for changes to my character. Though this is never easy, it helps me recognize my need for Him. Jesus, how we need you!

  9. I really like this post, Melissa. It’s hitting me right where I am. Good food for thought. Great questions to ponder. It is true, God is on the move, always working. Our faith does need to move toward Him. And, in many ways, our faith grows its best when we move away from what is comfortable toward what is not. This movement demands trust. Thank you for this!

    • Marcie, I love the way you communicated this: “Our faith does need to move toward Him. And, in many ways, our faith grows its best when we move away from what is comfortable toward what is not. This movement demands trust.” May we be alive in Christ and moving in step with His Spirit, that there is more room in our hearts for Him to keep us stretching and growing. May God bless you and keep you moving, sister!

  10. Reblogged this on Marcie Cramsey and commented:
    Melissa makes a great point about God. He is living, active and moving. And as she said, our faith must be moving toward God. When we don’t obey God and allow Him to move us out of our comfort zone, we will stagnate. To stagnate, as Melissa points out, gives the devil an opportunity to move in on us and steer us away from God. It is always better to trust and obey the Lord.

  11. I can only think of one who was told to stay, a demon possessed man who was healed, although I’m sure there were others. I want to be obedient since my journey began when I came to Jesus.

    • Yes, that’s true, Tom. We must listen for God’s unique call for our lives. Sometimes we are called to stay the course, stay faithful where we have been planted, but yet keep growing closer to Him all the while. So the movement may be our internal growth. May we listen for our highest calling from the Holy Spirit, the only Voice of Truth. Bless you!

  12. Wonderful post! God is always calling us to new things. We must open our hearts to his will, and listen to the answers He brings to us. It is said in the bible, “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”: Matthew 7:7 Jesus is as close as our very breath; He knows our hearts. When we are called to a new thing, He is there with us, leading the way.

  13. I was going to comment that we are, as a matter of fact, in a period of transition right now. Upon reflection, I see that we are always in a period of transition. 😊 And, thank our merciful God! I pray we can all look back over life periods and see God’s Hand, moving and shaping us to become more like His Son.
    Thank you for a beautiful and thought-provoking post.

    • So true, Kathy! Though some periods of transition are more outwardly visible than others. Truly, God is merciful in chipping away at our rough edges and helping us grow and grow again into HIs likeness. Thank you for reading and sharing your insights, Kathy! Blessings as you transition again!


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