Care, but don't carry
How do we care – but not carry the weight of the world on our shoulders? How do we feel the pressure of our concern for others – without that pressure crushing us under its weight? How was the Apostle Paul able to say: “I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28) and also, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)? He cared – but he didn’t carry. Here’s the rest of that Philippians 4 passage… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul was able to care because he carried everything to God. You know this passage. But are you doing it? If not, no wonder you’re going around burdened and heavy. You’re carrying a load God never intended you to carry. Cares, concerns and anxieties pile up in our hearts – and will bury our hearts – if we're not regularly taking them to God. The big, burly fisherman Peter puts it bluntly: chuck that load onto God! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) The Greek word for “cast” here literally means “to throw upon”. We are to “throw” our anxieties on God – and trust that he’ll catch them. Sometimes Lisa and I will literally throw invisible weights off our shoulders when we’re praying and then just feel the emotional relief it brings. (Which probably looks pretty funny) John Eldredge recommends we meditate on the phrase: “I give everyone and everything to God.” It’s like taking your shoes off and sinking into your chaise longue at the end of the day. Ah….. Yes, God wants us to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), but we are to carry them to God – who alone is able to shoulder their weight. Why cast your anxieties on God? Peter reminds us: “because he cares for you” (vs. 7b). Do you want your children burdened and weighed down by their anxieties? Neither does God. Another reason to cast all your anxiety on God? So you have the energy and bandwidth to care for others. Charles Spurgeon used the illustration of a man who comes to move your furniture, but carries a huge and heavy backpack of his own. He can’t really help anyone else if he is burdened by his own heavy load. “In the same way, we cannot do God’s work when we are weighed down by our own burdens and worries.” (Spurgeon) So, go ahead – chuck that big load you’ve been carrying around onto God! Don’t worry, he’ll catch it! Then you’ll be free to live lightly and still care – because you regularly carry everything to God.