Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Sheila Walsh's new book, Let Go: Live Free of the Burdens All Women Know, (Thomas Nelson, 2008).
God stands ready to deliver you from whatever burdens you're carrying – from health struggles to financial problems. But unlike the sudden rescue you may be hoping for, your deliverance may come in the form of a process instead. Yes, God could intervene just once and remove your problems. Often, though, He chooses to walk beside you as you carry your burdens, helping you gradually learn to trust Him enough to give them over to Him.
Here's how you can let go of your burdens:
Be open to any outcome. Rather than trying to convince God to answer your prayers in a certain way, tell God that you trust Him to do what's best. You can't know what your deliverance will look like or when it will come, but God does. Imagine Jesus hanging on the cross, and yourself approaching Him while carrying your burdens. Then, in prayer, leave those burdens at the foot of the cross for Him to handle.
Eat fresh-baked grace every day. God will give you fresh grace for each day that will strengthen you to overcome whatever challenges you face. Pray for His grace each morning. Remember these graceful truths: God loves you as you are right at this moment; He knows all about you and loves you anyway; He forgives you even when you can't forgive yourself; and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or less than He already does.
Break free of judging. Stop judging other people, and don't let other people's judgment of you make you feel condemned. Instead, embrace the grace that God so freely offers to you, and extend grace to others. Ask God to heal your heart from legalism and shame. Enjoy the freedom that God's grace makes possible in your life.
Give up what should have been for what is and what can be. Don't be so preoccupied with regretting your past that you can't fully live in the present or move into the future with confidence. Pursue healing for your pain from the past. Ask God to help you change negative habits into positive ones. Pray for the discernment you need to identify evil lies and reject them in Jesus' name. Ask God to redeem your scars from past wounds for the sake of His kingdom.
Look at reality. Let go of what you wish was true and accept what actually is true about your life right now. Hold onto the reality that God is with you in the middle of your circumstances. Ask Him to help you become more aware of His presence and notice His work in your life, even though all is not as you'd like it to be right now.
Forgive others. Get rid of bitterness that poisons your soul by forgiving people who have hurt you in the past. Rely on God's help to go through the process; you can count on Him to empower you. Let your gratitude for all that God has forgiven you for motivate you to obey His command to forgive other people. Renounce your right to get even with those who have hurt you and choose to forgive, no matter how you feel. Trust God to heal you as He helps you forgive.
Forgive yourself. Confess your sins regularly, repent of them by turning away from them and toward God, and accept the forgiveness God offers you as a result. Whenever you remember your sins after that, view them simply as reminders of God's grace and mercy to you.
Resist temptation. Ask God to help you avoid going down easier paths than the ones that will truly honor Him. Realize that giving into temptation will harm you and cause you to lose the opportunity to invite God to work for a greater good in your life. Be alert to the specific areas in which you're the most vulnerable to temptation, and guard against temptation especially in those areas of your life. Surrender every part of your life to God and ask Him to help you grow stronger and more spiritually mature. Whenever something that you want conflicts with God's will for you, be willing to choose God's will instead of your own.
Overcome fear. You never need to fear anything, because God has your best interests at heart. Make God your absolute top priority by placing Him at the center of your life and basing all your decisions on your relationship with Him. Get to know God's Word well through frequent Bible reading, reflection, and study. Whenever you encounter evil lies that will trap you in fear if you believe them, counter them with biblical truth that will lead to freedom. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind every day and help direct your thought process.
Break free of shame. The purpose of guilt is to bring you to God to deal with your sins. Once you've done that – through confession and repentance – you don't need to feel ashamed anymore. Identify moments in your life when you've felt shame and what you told yourself as a result. Then pray for God to heal your soul from the damage that shame has caused. Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you – a valuable person worth of great love. Thank Jesus that He actually became shame as He died on the cross for the world's sins, so that He could offer you true freedom from shame once and for all.
Discover your purpose. No matter how inadequate you may feel or how disappointed you may be with your circumstances, nothing about your life is an accident. Look beyond what you can see to God and ask Him to show you His purposes for your life. Pray for the ability to see the great value in your life and to love your life as God loves it. Ask God to help you fulfill your potential in every part of your life. Know that you are chosen and loved. Your life matters. Embrace God's call, despite difficult circumstances, and follow wherever He leads you so you don't waste any of your great potential here on earth.
Trust more deeply. Whenever you need to risk trusting God more, remember who it is that you're called to trust: the One who created you, the Source of all love and power, and the One who wants the best for you. Be willing to follow Him step by step.
Enjoy God's love. Embrace God's limitless love for you, and let His love compel you to let go of whatever burdens you're holding onto so you can hold on only to God. Stop trying to find in others what can only be found in your relationship with God. Every day, ask God to give you a fresh revelation of His love for you, and thank Him for it.
See yourself as God sees you. Write a list of all the negative things you can remember people saying about you in the past – things that made you feel bad about yourself. Then pray over the list, asking God to heal your hurt and forgive those who hurt you. Tear up the list or burn it afterward. Ask God to help you view yourself accurately – from His perspective.
Embrace the hope God offers you. You are never too far away for God to reach, and your life is never broken beyond repair. Even when you've wandered away from God or felt abandoned, God had still been present with you. The very cells that hold your body together are in the shape of a cross. Reflect on that fact and let it lead you to the real hope God offers you because of Jesus' death on a cross. No matter how hopeless your current circumstances may seem, you always have hope because of your relationship with God through Jesus. Trusting in that hope will bring you the ultimate deliverance. Tear down strongholds of evil's influence in your life, invite the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts, and make a habit of responding to God's hope by living faithfully for Him each day.
Adapted from Let Go: Live Free of the Burdens All Women Know, copyright 2009 by Sheila Walsh. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
Sheila Walsh, a successful speaker, is author of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess series, and other books such as The Heartache No One Sees, and Get off Your Knees & Pray. Sheila lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.