The Freedom of Letting Go

The Freedom of Letting Go

Scientific discoveries and their theological implications always fascinate me, but sometimes it’s the Scripture-validating everyday human experiences that confirm the Bible’s divine origin.

A discovery I’ve made about myself over the years is the degree to which I will hang on to anything that gives me advantage, whether money, position, or credit. Letting go of any advantage goes strongly against the grain, even though I desire to live in harmony with biblical principles.

This tendency was profoundly challenged when I was leading the Hypercube Project in its early phases at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The goal of this project was to develop a supercomputer made up of hundreds of desktop-sized computers all working together in parallel. I played a significant role in initiating JPL’s contribution to this joint cooperation between JPL and the Caltech campus. Also, to insure success, I gave up leadership in other important projects to devote time to raising funds at various government and private agencies. I also led the group that was developing new hardware and software systems for the next-generation machine.

In many ways I felt like I was “king of the mountain” for a very exciting research effort that also got the attention of the (then) director of JPL, Ret. General Lew Allen. He would come over to our workplace carrying a card in his wallet that listed the performance characteristics we had promised to achieve, in order to check up on progress. However, as the project grew, it became clear to JPL leadership (and me) that we needed a full-time experienced administrator to run things. In time such a person was hired, but for me to let go of my responsibilities was like pulling teeth. Needless to say, there was a lot of tension in our relationship.

At this same time I was being challenged to give more of my finances to various causes. Jesus says in Acts 20:35 that there is greater joy in giving than receiving. I certainly knew of the blessing of receiving. Was I interested in discovering the greater joy of not just giving, but giving generously?

My first response after deciding to accept the challenge was to commit to giving larger tips to restaurant food servers. No big deal there. A bit more challenging was the decision to give more generously to others in need and to various ministries. However, the real rub came when I felt I was being challenged to let go of my position at work. I struggled for some time with this suggestion, but finally gave in and committed to trust God with my future and any credit I earned.

The outcome of this adventure resulted in a freedom from fear and jealousy and the need to receive credit for any contribution I make. Even though I still fall far short of the example I see in many others, I sense a growing desire to give even more, both financially and in service. There is also a new excitement in working on applying other principles of life given in Scripture. I can genuinely testify that, far beyond the degree to which I have given, I have tasted of the joy that Jesus spoke of.

Such validations of biblical ideas from common experiences—even though anecdotal—demonstrate Christianity’s “livability,” an important test for worldviews.