4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians. 4:6-7)
It drove me crazy in high school and college when I was a terrible math student. I had great teachers, but I was a math flunkout. They did all they could to help me to understand the concepts and ideas, but I just could not “get it.” I passed with a low grade, but it was hard work. What seemed like easy words and teaching ideas to them became for me nothing but confusion.
Prayer and spiritual growth in Jesus Christ can be a similar struggle for many of us. You may hear people say all the time, “Just trust God!” Or perhaps you have heard this one, “Let go and let God!” These sound great on a Christian sympathy card. But, to actually apply them to real life can be tough or even quite daunting.
How about this one, from the disciple Peter, “cast all your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Cast all your cares on God; how do we do that? Is that like casting a fishing lure? Is it like dumping a truck load of rocks? Is that like handing off a hot potato? It reminds me of college math. What in the world are you talking about? 1x+56-900+34b = ?? Does that make any sense to you?
Peter, just like Paul in Phil. 4:6-7, is inviting us in the midst of everyday life to let go of stuff (concerns, hurts, situations, sins, anxieties, burdens, losses, etc.) and give it over to God. Both Paul and Peter recognized that life is mixed with lots of burdens. (Side note, Jesus also jumped into this same type of discussion in Matthew 11:28-30.) They also knew that the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is an invitation to let those things go into God’s hands, God’s cares, God’s knowings, God’s power, God’s providential will, into God Himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Have you thought about this invitation to let go of the heavy, light, small, big, personal, universal anxieties of life? Can you imagine not carrying the burdens of life? Can you think of a day in your life when you have not had your shoulders hunched over, neck balled up in knots, head deep in concerns, gut weary with worry? I can think of only a few times. We are made to care and worry. Care and anxiety sit awfully close to each other in our daily lives.
But, how do we take this invitation to let go, to cast down, to know rest in Jesus? How does the actual math of this work out?
Like I needed for my college math classes, here are Four Easy Steps:
Step 1: Go to Jesus.
Jesus says to come to Him (Matt. 11:28). Go to God in Christ. Turn to Him. Reach out to Him in your mind, your heart, in your words and in your thoughts. Quite simply say, “Jesus, I am coming to you now. Here I am.” You can do this as you read this email. You can do this while you make your breakfast, while changing diapers, while paying your bills, while crying, laughing, showering, running, discipling your kids, wrestling with a work project, while sitting down for quiet prayer time or while navigating a noisy grocery store aisle. Reach out to God in Christ; He is there. Millions of people do it all day, every day and so can you.
Step 2: Let go of the thing/things that are weighing on you by giving them to Jesus.
Do this through prayer, talking, communicating, shouting, whispering, crying, writing in your journal. Quite literally, take them into your heart and mind and then drop them in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. I often have to picture the heavy thing in my hand, then I turn my hand over while praying to Jesus and symbolically and spiritually let it drop from my hands into His hands. It sounds kind of mystical, doesn’t it? Well, it is.
Step 3: Be embraced by His love. If you can’t see that, look to the Cross and empty tomb.
Peter says that because He cares for us, we can then cast all of our cares on Him. Paul says with thanksgiving to make our requests know to God; then the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Jesus. God’s love, care and peace will overwhelm us as we lay down our concerns into His hands.
Step 4: Finally, do it again and again and again and again and again…
There is not a day, a situation or a moment that goes by where we don’t need to reach out to Jesus and give Him our life, our big parts and little parts. No matter the season of life, age or day we are living in, Jesus is life and His life is rest.