After our extended weekend of rest, it was back to work today. We were studying contractions and one of our activities was Contraction Soup. Written inside each cup of soup were words commonly used in contractions. The task was to make as many combinations as possible into contractions.
I was sitting by Helen, who was doing a fantastic job pairing words. The tricky part of the activity was that the words could be used more than once, and they were not in any order. For example, ‘he’ and ‘does’ were in the bowl, but are never put together to make a contraction. But, you would use ‘he’ and ‘does’ together in a sentence. She was verbally testing out every possible combination, “there plus it equals there…it…there’t…nope.” Then she stumbled upon a doozie: “She plus it…sheeee…it!” She didn’t even realize what she had said or that it’s even a word to be concerned about. She moved right along to “she plus will equals….she’ll!” I couldn’t help but chuckle at the unintended PG-13 rating of our language arts lesson.
Our memory verse this week is 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast your burdens unto Jesus, for he cares for you.” We discussed that a burden could be anything that weighs you down. One translation says “anxieties” instead of burdens. It could be worries about math or the future. It could be sad feelings or anger towards someone. Pretty much any “shee…it” that takes our focus away from God and His glory and His power to do mighty things. Much like Judah’s diaper gets weighed down when he unloads his ‘PG-13 contraction’, we too can be carrying around heavy burdens that need to be discarded. It seems a little irreverent to think about casting excrement onto Jesus. But, He does ask us to give Him all our dirt, all our sin, all our filth. He desires to change us–to make us clean.
For the past six or seven days, my back has really been hurting. I think it’s a combination of heavy-duty floor mopping, carrying a baby on my hip, and slouching at my desk as I write. When I pop a couple of ibuprofen and keep moving on through the day, I can get distracted from the discomfort and continue with the same tasks that are causing the pain. I return to holding Judah on my hip while vacuuming and slumping over the computer. However, when I skip the meds and stand still, I find myself fully engaged in the tightness of the muscles surrounding my spine. Only then does it become unbearable. It’s at these moments of weakness that I have two options in front of me. Mask the pain again and keep plugging through, turning back to hurtful habits and destructive behavior, or make an appointment to get things straightened out.
The same happens with sin or anxieties, or any kind of burden. I am noticing that when I am anxious about something and am not fully engaging in it, my temper is short and my patience runs thin. I have two choices. I can either mask the underlying anxiety and let frustration and exasperation prevail, or I can engage my own heart and ask some questions. If I fully engage in the worry and place it at the feet of Jesus, my general disposition changes.
How do I engage with my heavy load of “PG-13 contractions”? First I have to acknowledge that there is something weighing me down-that indeed I am worried about something. Or that indeed, I did hurt that person’s feelings. Or that indeed, I did do that wrong thing. Then I have to examine what that worry or sin says about how I am viewing the character of God. If I have worried about something, am I viewing God as all-knowing, all-powerful, or all-trustworthy? If I hurt someone’s feelings, and am not taking responsibility for it, what does that say about God? Does that kind of living reveal his love for all mankind? If I have done something that goes against God’s will for me, and I am carrying it around like a dirty diaper in my back pocket, what does that say about who God is? What does clinging to my excremental sin say about his unconditional love, his vast forgiveness, and his storehouses full of grace? When I engage with my burdens, and examine what my worry or shame or resistance is saying about who God is, only then can I start to cast those burdens onto Jesus.
When I think about what kinds of things I lug around, whether worries or sins, I usually don’t think of them as foul-smelling dung. But, maybe if I did, I would appreciate the fact that Jesus willingly asks me to hand them over to Him. When I don’t fully engage in what burdens I am carrying around, then I usually don’t realize that I have a need to get rid of them. For my worry, in particular, I can pull events or situations from my own contraction soup and try to make things connect when they just aren’t supposed to. As Christians, we often try to predict what God is doing and how He is moving by drawing conclusions based on sermons we hear, not-so-coincidental events, and Holy Spirit promptings. I’m not saying God doesn’t work in these ways, I firmly believe He does. But too often, I find myself trying to connect events not because I am earnestly seeking out God’s will, but rather my own will. In order to have “confirmation” about what I want, I join together a whole slew of things that just simply aren’t meant to go together. When this happens I end up with a lot ‘she-it’s to deal with because again, I’ve placed my trust in my plan and not in the Father’s. Thankfully, I can cast all those things back into the melting pot of grace and wait for Him to reveal His plan and provision.
When looking at our memory verse this morning, we also defined casting. Casting is not merely handing something over. It’s not giving something to someone only to draw your hand quickly back in hesitance. It is a throw! When we think of fishing, we don’t just underhand a hook into the water. We gear up for it, turning slightly to the side, drawing the arm back and heaving the pole over our heads, releasing the line and the worm far into the distance. It takes trust to cast our burdens like that. And, trust means recalibrating our view of God.
So if I indeed made a mistake, caused my neighbor hurt or harm, or worried about provision for tomorrow, then I should take time to reset my view of God. Indeed, His grace is enough. His love is deep enough. His faithfulness and provision are wide enough. When I adjust how I am viewing my Father, then my burdens are amazingly taken away. I’ve cast them onto Him, trusting this adjusted view of Him now based on the truth, not my fear. My burdens are lifted because now I am trusting a God who can and should be trusted. I’ve got no reason to carry around all that she-it.