Lent Part 5 – Invitation to Care Less

Drip, drip, drip… That’s the dailyness of life slowly eroding your heart.  Whoosh, crash, roar… Here comes a raging river of tragedy sweeping you downstream in a torrent of whitewater.  Sound familiar?

Whether it’s the ongoing press of life or the sudden intensity of a crisis, we all know what it’s like to be weighed down with cares.  That’s why we find Jesus’ words so hard to receive.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Surely there’s a catch, right?  Surely God wants me to put more effort into obeying Him before I can expect Him to give me rest.

Most of us – me included – want to believe God is in control.  But we still live like it’s all up to us.  We try to be good enough.  We try to think happy thoughts and just keep moving forward in the midst of our burdens and distress.  But listen again to Jesus’ invitation from The Message, and let it go past your head and sink into your heart.

“Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Freely and lightly.  Ahh.  I can almost feel the coolness of the green pastures, hear the quiet of the still waters.  He wants me to recover my life and stop trying to carry burdens I was never meant to carry.  This is good news indeed.  But the good news doesn’t stop there.  This too-good-to-be-true offer is not just for me.  I get to help pass out this ultimate party favor to anyone else who wants to come to the party.

A copule months ago I lingered after a mid-week Bible study to talk with my friend Sandi, and as we stood in the church courtyard chatting, God decided to interrupt our conversation with a divine appointment.  We saw her shuffling toward us, walking with uncertain steps and a look of deep pain in her eyes.  It was clear she didn’t know where she was going, so I asked if she needed help.  She hesitated and didn’t seem to know how to respond.

Finally she blurted out, “I’m not really sure why I’m here.  I was just driving along and I felt like I was supposed to stop here at the church for help.”  A tear slipped down her cheek.  She quickly wiped it away as she went on, “I’ve got so many hard things going on in my life rightnow, and I don’t think I can take anymore.  I just don’t know where else to turn.”

For the next 45 minutes, she poured out her story of one tragic event after another.  And the real kicker was the fact that in the midst of all this tragedy (which would take too long to recount), she was new in the area and did not yet have a church home or network of friends.

With each passing moment, as we listened and prayed together, we could almost see the cares falling off her shoulders.  This woman, who had been almost bent over by the cares of her life, was able to lay her cares down at the foot of the cross (to literally “care less”) and allow Jesus to lift her up.

After sharing with her about some church resources she could take advantage of, we invited her to church and a small group gathering, and we even exchanged contact information so she could call us for further help.  But what she seemed to need most that day was simply to be heard and cared for.

As she wiped the last of her tears away, there was a new light in her face.  Eyes that had been dulled with sorrow now seemed to radiate a spark of hope.  We said goodbye and watched her walk away, a different woman.  Sandi and I were speechless.  We had just been given the joy of being the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken and needy person.  It honestly doesn’t get any better than that.

And this is Christ’s invitation to all of us today – to care less.  To give Him our cares.  To “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Pet. 5:7)  During this season of Lent, He’s also inviting us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to one another, helping bring others to the foot of the cross where they can lay down their cares and learn to live “freely and lightly.”  Whatever load we’re carrying today, it’s not too heavy for Him.  And as we experience the joy of caring less, let’s be sure to keep our eyes open for opportunities to pass the gift along.


2 Comments

  1. I notice the light, shining steadily on the upstretched hand. The Light.

    I noticed the white-knuckled hands of a new woman in my Al_Anon group–she couldn’t even talk at first. Later, I watched her waveing her hands as she told of trying to get supper on the table at just the right moment to keep her husband from drinking. If she was late he drank; if she was early, he drank–there must be a right moment! At first she didn’t understand why we were laughing–then she began to get it. Six months later I saw her hand outstretched gracefully to another woman new to Al-Anon as she gently counseled her to ‘Let go and let God.’

    The Light was shining on her hand each time.

  2. WOW…………..

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