I was talking to an individual after church who I really respect and admire. He seems to have it all together—as if he has life planned out and the blessing and favor of God are all over him. He’s a person who is respected by many other people by giving advice and sharing his life.
But he didn’t have a good relationship with his father and as soon as the conversation turns on to someone’s father you can just see his resistance. He had a father that abandoned him. In the brief moments when his father was in his life, he was pushed to be excellent—not for the sake of being excellent, but for the sake of being the best. He was never allowed to fail and never allowed to question, just push, push, push to be the best in everything that he did. That created in him a perfectionist spirit, and a spirit that is critical of fathers.
I was reading from Acts 7 recently, which is the stoning of Stephen—not exactly my favorite chapter of the Bible. But I was really taken by one thing that I read about Stephen’s death. It was an unjustified stoning; he was being killed simply for his faith. But just before he died Stephen said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Stephen understood the power of letting go, of not holding things in and letting God remove them. While, it is true that he probably died moments after he spoke those words, the reality is that he spoke them because he did not want anyone to hold anything against him or he against them. It’s called freedom. There are people in my life that need that freedom. They are hanging onto bad relationships, mistakes they’ve made, and things which are difficult. I think we can learn from Stephen: he released things to the Lord and didn’t hang onto things that were weighing him down.