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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Letting Go



"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)


Letting go is hard. My favorite devotional is Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. My good friend Ida gave it to me back in 2005 and it has been my daily companion for 18 years now. It has taught me so much about God’s word, living faithfully as a Christ-follower, and where to find the “streams” in God’s word that bring hope during the “desert” seasons of life. It is a treasured gift.


These days, this wonderful gift is haggard and worn. The pages are grimy from the years of my touch and falling out, no longer bound to the spine. The book’s paper covering was lost years ago and the now blue hardback with a black spine is falling apart as well. The inside isn’t much better. The pages are marked up with special passages highlighted and numerous dates, notes, and loved ones’ names in the margins. There are even a few coffee and food stains inside as well.


I love this book. It has taken quite a journey with me over the years and its appearance now reveals as much.


A few years ago, I felt the nudge of God to let my old friend go for a while. I’ve thought for years about getting a new version, but that’s not an option for me; you don’t replace such a special friend. I’ve also thought seriously about getting it rebound, and maybe someday that will happen, but that year the nudge was to let this familiar friend go and I was so sad. (My eyes are watering and my throat even clenching as I type these words. It seems so silly - it’s just a book. Yet the feelings were so real.)


Letting go is hard.


I would also be prompted to let go of my favorite Bible that year as well. It was a navy blue, 1984, thin-line, NIV version given to me by my husband in 2004 for our 10th anniversary. It too had taken quite a journey with me over the years and had been my daily companion as well. This was the first Bible I began to read when I got serious about my relationship with Jesus and its words have forever changed me.


This book is an old friend as well whose pages speak of our journey together. Favorite verses are highlighted, notes are written, dates and names are in the margins, the pages are dirty, and this cover also is now falling apart. This friend, however, my Lord will never ask me to put aside; of that I’m confident. This is His word, His voice, His breath to me, and I not only love it but also daily need it.


The problem was, my eyesight was not what it used to be and the letters are so very small in this version. I’d moved from glasses, to Lasik eye surgery, to readers up to 2.5, and had finally landed on progressives but my old friend was still getting harder and harder to read. I was fast becoming the funny old lady who shined a flashlight on her Bible so she could see it, but even that was not as helpful. The time had come to get a new Bible with a larger print.


For Christmas that year, my husband bought me a new Bible as similar to the old one as possible. It was still a thin line, NIV, but with a much larger print, and as did my old Bible, came with beautiful silver-lined pages. Inside was a special note, handwritten by my husband, and on the cover my name stamped in silver. It was perfect and I loved it, but I remember a sense of sadness coming over me as I opened it. Flipping through the crisp pages, there were no highlights, no markings, and no documentation of my journey thus far with my Savior. It felt so foreign.


Again, letting go is hard.


My first quiet time with the new Bible was difficult. While still an NIV, this version had been translated slightly differently and some of my favorite passages, memorized long ago, had changed using different words. Cringe… I certainly didn't like those changes.

 

Typically, I would use my Streams in the Desert devotional as a way to ease into my morning ritual after journaling, but without its presence, everything felt off and unfamiliar. So, I went to the bookshelf, grabbed it, and prayed, “Lord, give me one last word from my old friend so I can let it go.”


June 19 was the date that popped into my head, so that’s the excerpt I went to read. The verse for the day was…


“Grain must be ground to make bread.” (Isaiah 28:28)


It went on to speak of our willingness to “be ground” so that we may feed others with what we have learned from God. It was one last beautiful gift of wisdom to me from my old friend. After putting it back on the shelf, I returned to my desk and looked at my new Bible patiently waiting for me to open its new pages. The silver-stamped letters on the front seemed to glare off the cover.


"Do you understand now?” whispered deep into my soul.


Through tears, I ran my fingers across the words… Pastor Stephanie R. Ehmke.


While my old Bible had my name on it, this one marked my calling. As I sat there with this new Bible that would one day be an old familiar friend, I finally understood. My first Bible and my favorite devotional had been God’s tools to sustain me all of those years as I’d been “ground to make bread” for His service. I’m definitely not perfect and still don’t have all the answers, but that season was over and it was now time for a new one with new adventures, new lessons to learn, new scriptures to hold onto, and new ways of approaching God.


Today I write these words in the realization that I am in another new season of "letting go" as I step into the role of Location Pastor at Grace Ann Arbor West. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time but I move forward into the unknown with confidence, remembering God's word to me that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).


It’s going to take some time to adjust, but I can’t wait to see what this next season holds! 







For Your Reflection…


Letting go is hard. In fact, it can be downright painful at times. What is God asking you to let go of in this season? How are you doing?


God is more faithful than I ever could have imagined and I know if he is asking you to give something up, he will replace it in time with something better. Ask him to help you as you wait.

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