There is power and beauty in the process of release.
Release of what no longer serves you.
To achieve this, you must first understand what “release” means. To release is to be set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude- to be relieved from something that is a burden.
I know this statement may seem odd but I’m going to say it anyway—
“Release like a tree.”
Have you ever considered that trees are release experts? Every winter they shed off their dead leaves and send them raining down to the ground or into the wind, without hesitation. (What no longer serves them is released.) They are designed to release to make room to receive the glorious buddings of new green leaves and stunning blooms that will burst forth in spring!
The release is necessary to bring the power and beauty of new abundant life.
Without release the tree has no room for new growth- its branches would be weighed down with decay. Rendering the tree unable to bear good fruit.
Isn’t this true for us?
If we never recognize the “dead leaves” in our lives and release them, how can we expect to flourish? To be truly free to live an abundant life that is filled with good fruit.
Nelson Mandela understood the power of release:
"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison."
So did the Biblical character, Joseph.
If you are unfamiliar with his story, it can be found in the book of Genesis. It is a story that would rival any modern-day soap opera-favoritism, jealousy, contemplated murder, lies, deceit, slavery, slander, and false imprisonment.
Yet, it is also a story of release.
Joseph was “Daddy’s favorite” and his brothers hated him. They hated him so much that they considered killing him but, instead decided to sell him into slavery and tell Dad he was killed by wild animals.
Problem solved- brat gone.
Because of what his brothers did Joseph spent the next thirteen (13) years banished from his home- enslaved and then imprisoned after being falsely accused of rape!
Joseph had thirteen long years of servitude, neglect, abuse, and imprisonment. He was punished for crimes he never committed. He had thirteen years to stew over the past- to replay what his brothers had done and thirteen years to wonder why his father never came for him. Thirteen years to break his spirit and cause hatred, anger, and bitterness to take root!
In a twist of fate, Joseph was finally freed and because of his strong faith and character displayed through the adversity, he became the second most powerful man in the country- second only to Pharaoh!
Joseph was so powerful, that years later, he found himself in a position to hold his brothers accountable. Surprisingly, he didn’t seek revenge -instead, Joseph chose something better.
He forgave them.
And in this one act- he was released.
Released from the chains that were still upon him despite his power position- chains of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
Like Nelson Mandela, Joseph comprehended the power of release. He understood that clinging to bitterness, anger, and hatred would only serve to keep him trapped.
Joseph had twenty-two years to wrestle with forgiveness before his brothers ever appeared in his court. In that time, he came to realize that what his brothers intended for his harm, God used it for good- "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20
Joseph recognized what no longer served him and just like the tree- He released it.
And in the process- he was free!
As you read this today, what does your tree of life look like? Do you have any dead leaves that you are clinging to that need to be released?
You can identify them by exploring your behaviors and reactions. Are you prone to anger? Do you have a critical spirit that is constantly negative? Are you easily upset by the behaviors of others around you? Easily offended or irritable?
If you answered yes to any of the above. You may very well have a root of bitterness buried deep below the surface.
Bitterness and unforgiveness are two of Satan's strongest weapons that he uses to keep us in spiritual, mental, and physical bondage. They are difficult to detect because they don't always manifest on the outside. The very nature of pent-up feelings and emotions means they get buried deep within and often are ignored or discounted.
Please hear my heart- I’ve seen first-hand the damage that is done when bitterness and unforgiveness are left unresolved. Life is a struggle. Joy is hard to achieve. Doubts, worry, anxiety, and anger bubble to the surface- often. It is difficult to walk in confidence and freedom. God does not want us to live a life that is hindered! He wants us to choose to release all the junk that we are carrying- to give it over to Him completely. To repent for holding this poison in our hearts and to forgive and be forgiven.
When we do – we are free!
The power of God's release brings the abundant beauty of freedom and new life!
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (NLT) Hebrews 12:15