It was early in the morning when the sound of chainsaws buzzing outside of my window woke me. Wondering what was going on, I looked out the window to see a crew of men cutting down a massive tree in my neighbors front yard. I could hardly believe it. That tree has been there all of my life. It shaded my home and provided a swing for my neighbor’s grandchild. Without it, the lot next door seems so empty and bare. Every time I look out the window, I miss it. A few weeks later, I was talking with my neighbor, and she asked if I missed the tree. I said, “Yeah, it was a little sad to see it go.” She agreed that it made her sad to cut it down after so many years, and yet because the tree was damaged inside, it was too dangerous to stay. After the trunk split, she was afraid that it would fall on a house, so she decided to cut it down. As we ended our conversation and I walked home, I thought about how the need to cut down the tree parallels life. As many of us know, sometimes we have to let go of things that make us comfortable, that we are accustomed to, or that we really enjoy. Sometimes these things are dangerous. Other times, it’s a habit or choice that is unhealthy physically, mentally, or spiritually. Then there are times when God simply asks us to let go of one thing to make room for another. While overcoming an issue or saying goodbye to a relationship, a sin, a habit, or a lifestyle is never easy, we must make the hard choice for our good. Personally, I’ve been there many times. I’ve had moments where the Holy Spirit has asked me to end or alter relationships because they weren’t good for me. Other times, I’ve had to stop participating in an activity because it was against Biblical principles. Sometimes, I had to give up grudges or hard feelings because even if they were justified, they were causing too much damage to my attitude and soul. Even though it may have been difficult to overcome my feelings, give up a friendship, make a lifestyle change, or even give up something that I enjoyed, every time I have made the hard choice and followed the Holy Spirit, I’ve found that it has benefited me. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 5:29-30: “If your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand[l]—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Sounds extreme, doesn’t it??? Yet, it’s essential to understand that Jesus wasn’t making a case for self-mutilation. He was simply making the point that as Christians, we need to do whatever it takes to ensure that we are truly following Jesus. Rather than making excuses or saying, “it’s too hard” to make life changes to follow Jesus, we need to maintain an eternal perspective where our the condition of our soul is the priority. If something interferes with your relationship with God, it needs to go. If someone keeps you from wholeheartedly following Jesus or experiencing the healing that He has for you, then that relationship needs to end or be altered. We can’t coddle sin. We can’t fall into the traps of “it’s no big deal” or “everyone else is doing it.” Even if we love it, enjoy it, and can’t imagine our lives without it, if it hurts our relationship with God or keeps us from being the person God called us to be, it needs to go. We need to follow my neighbor’s example and decide that even though it isn’t easy, we can’t keep unhealthy, spiritually dangerous things in our lives. Instead, we need to choose to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus with abandon.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.