Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Hard Work of Casting Our Cares

I'm laying here in the dark with my mind racing from one worry to the next. There is never a shortage of worries when you're a single mom. I guess that's probably true for anyone, but all I know is what it's like to be a single mom: As one thing gets fixed, six more break. I see the accumulation of choices, both good and bad, but for the moment all I can see is what they are costing me now, and the weight of all that is left undone ... waiting to collapse in on me. I feel so alone, not that there aren't people who care and people who are loving me well, but right now ... in this minute ... it's dark, and they're not here. I hurt for all the things that I feel like my kids have missed out on ... for all the things I can't give them ... and I see no real change to my circumstances in the future. I begin to feel tears as I realize I don't dream anymore ... I can't dream, because I did that when I was younger, and ... well ... look where I am. I just want to go to sleep! I want that brief respite from the harshness and pain of reality ... Why can't I sleep?

A song pierces my self-pity and worry.

I cast all my cares upon You.
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.
And any time I don't know what to do,
I will cast all my cares upon You.

I love it when the Lord uses songs, scriptures, words from my past to remind me of His truth. It's especially important now when I spend too little time in His Word, too little time in prayer. And the truth of the song hits me: I'm carrying too much on my own again. I haven't given Him any of my worries, none of my cares ... I've just gone from need to need, moment to moment for days and weeks, trying to figure out how to carry them myself. The result? I've spent too much money I don't have on things that I didn't really "need." I've gone back to hiding in my comfortable idols, retreating into mindless entertainment to forget for a few moments my worries, fears, and hard work. And now, I'm not sleeping, because as the weight of escapism and indulgence and self-comfort collects on top of my already overloaded resources, all I can do is collapse.

I hear myself ask: How do I give it to You? How do I let go of it?

He wispers: "Go to my Words. I've already answered you. Listen to me. After all, you're already awake."
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
          1 Peter 5:6-11

What do I see here? Well, first of all, when I searched the word "cast" I noticed what an active word it is. I saw lots of references to casting someone or something out, to God casting someone away (or thankfully, promising not to do so). Fishermen cast their nets, a prophet cast his mantle over his replacement, soldiers cast lots for clothing, and Moses cast down his rod. So to cast means to throw away - not just to toss it - but to throw it with force and determination.

I see God's qualifications: "humble yourself," "be alert and sober," "resist the enemy and stand firm in faith. Isn't it just the opposite of what I'm doing? Instead of relying on myself I need to humble myself and admit my weakness and dependence. Instead of escaping I need to be watchful and aware of what is going on in my life and realistic about it. Instead of sleeping, I need to stand up to him! This is not one of those times I'm to flee, it's a time to resist and stand firm on what I know is true.

So I begin:

  • And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19
  • Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you;never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
  • For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I look up key words and remember scriptures I committed to memory, reminding myself of His promises and His truth. And I choose, in FAITH, to believe that what He has told me is true. After all, I've seen Him keep these promises before: when the air conditioning was broken and I expected a costly repair and after going months without air it took only cleaning the drip drain to make it fully functional again ... when a frightening hospital stay turned into an unplanned stretch of needed quiet time and a restoration of relationships to the body of Christ that I was missing ... when the forced abandoning of my dream of homeschooling my youngest son provided much needed academic help for him and a wonderful job I love for me. He's provided again and again, for me and for my children. Why would He stop now? He still loves us with an everlasting love.

I see the reminder that I am not alone in all of this - that other believers are suffering too, and I remember that many are suffering in ways I cannot imagine. I wasn't threatened today. I didn't wake up on a stone floor in a prison for talking about Jesus. My children weren't ripped from me. I wasn't beaten or tortured. I remember that my sufferings are minimal ... and still God will provide.

And I'm reminded that this is all temporal ... that once I reach heaven even enduring all of this for the rest of my life (and who's to say I will have to go through it that long?) will seem like such a short time compared to the eternity of living with Jesus. Finally, I'm reminded that it's all for His glory. I don't have much but my mess to give Him, but I can give Him my mess.

Once again, as I have since I was very young I enlist my vivid imagination. I close my eyes and enter the throne of the greatest King ever. Most enter this throne room in fear, for His power and sovereignty are evident, and although I'm in awe, I'm not afraid. You see, He's my Father, my Beloved ... and I know how very much He treasures me. So I run to His lap, but before I get in it, I lay down the heave bags I'm trying to carry. As I lay them down, I name them: my teenager's schooling, getting boys where they need to go this year, unpaid medical bills, all the treatment that lays ahead, broken furniture that needs replacing, critical "friends" who are watching my every parenting move to report me to DCF instead of coming to help me .... The bags are many, because the list is long, but I lay them at His feet one by one. Finally, when I can't think of anything more to worry about, I climb up in His lap, and listen for Him to sing over me...

... until I fall asleep.

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