The Birds of the Air

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019 Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 It was literally the birds of the air that caught my attention one morning during my quiet time.

The morning temperatures were still warm enough to sit out on the back deck and absorb the peacefulness of the woods behind my house. I’d not slept well the night before, my mind whirring with worries.

I know—Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? But life slams Christians, too. What makes it different for us is how we respond to it.

And I wasn’t responding very well. Not as well as I thought I would. It’s easy to spout Scripture when things are going relatively smoothly. But when the storms come, the winds tear at your faith, and the waves crash over your resolve to stand firm, it’s all you can do to hang on.

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He’ll sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It’s one thing to read those words; it’s another story entirely to do them.

Now, I’m good at casting. The problem is I keep reeling the burden back in. And casting it out again. And reeling it back in.

That night I cast my burden on the Lord by presenting Him with the whole list of what was worrying me. I claimed Philippians 4:19—that God will supply all that I needed. And, in keeping with Luke 11:9, I asked. I sought. I knocked.

Now if only I could leave the response to Him.

But no. I awoke the next morning with the burden still heavy on my mind, heart, and spirit.

The little gray bird flitting from limb to limb caught my eye first. Then the robin, worm still in its beak.

“Look at the birds of the air,” I heard God say. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

I looked up the Scripture—Matthew 6:25–34. Three times Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

And I remembered Philippians 4:6—“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything.”

I did the second part of that verse—“pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” But peace still eluded me. Because I kept reeling those worries back in again and again.

“Worry is like a rocking chair,” motivational speaker Glenn Turner noted. “It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

I’m not good at sitting and waiting for God to work. I have to be doing something—anything but be still.

“I have come, that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Abundant life.

And worry compromises that abundant life by siphoning your hope, your joy, and your energy, and replacing them with anxiety, insomnia, tension, and irritability. In other words, you’re no fun to live with.

So, how do we deal with worry?

First, recognize where it comes from: the enemy of our souls, a lack of trust in God, and a weak faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Second, respond to it by praying: cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there!

Prioritize that worry list. Determine what’s most important and, with prayer, deal with that.

And finally, live in the present.

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once,” said Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. “It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

Look at your calendar. See that square marked today? Focus on that. Live in one square at a time.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?

Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?

Do you lie awake at night because your worries are whirring through your mind and you just can’t put them to bed?

Maybe, like me, you need more practice with your casting—and learning not to reel them back in.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  –Psalm 94:18–19 ESV

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25–34.

 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019, by Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.  Click here to see more outdoor shots.

Cast or Carry?

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. –Psalm 55:22 ESV

I recently read about a 25-year-old Army veteran suffering from degenerative arthritis.

“Arthritis is supposed to happen when you get old,” he told a Seattle Times reporter. “What’s it going to be like when I’m 50 or 60?”

The arthritis has caused painful bone spurs in the vertebrae in his neck and can be traced to carrying 70 to 80 pounds of equipment when he served in Iraq.

The human body is just not made to lift and carry heavy loads. Even with training, you can only carry so much.

Likewise, the human spirit can only carry so much for so long.

Burdens. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. We all have to deal with them. It comes with living in this world.

How do we deal with burdens?

According to my Bible, we either carry them or cast them.

Take Moses, for example. He carried the burden of leading the contrary, complaining people of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land.

“You lay the burden of all these people on me,” he said to God at one point.

So God told him to select 70 men from the elders. “I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Numbers 11:17).

We are not meant to bear our burdens alone.

“Bear one another’s burdens,” God’s Word instructs us, “and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Isn’t it so much easier when even one person comes alongside us and helps us? The thing about helping others is that when we get our minds off our own burdens and help someone else with theirs, ours don’t seem to be as heavy.

And then there’s Jesus. “Come to me,” He says, “all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

How do we give Jesus our burdens to carry?

We cast them on Him.

“Cast your burden on the Lord,” David tells us, “and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).

And if anyone had burdens to bear, it was him. Anointed king over Israel, David spent years in the wilderness, hiding in caves, fleeing from the murderous King Saul. And when he did become king, his own son attempted to usurp the throne. Yet read the psalms of David, and you’ll see he learned to cast his burdens on the Lord.

Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties (cares, worries) on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

How do you cast your worries on God, give your burden to Jesus to carry?

First, refuse to allow your mind to dwell on your anxieties. Acknowledge them, don’t deny them, and release them through prayer (see Philippians 4:6–7). Imagine them soaring up to heaven, where God will take care of them, in His way and in His time.

Replace your worried thoughts with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

Celebrate the good things in your life. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it every day. And rejoice!

I’m still working on learning how to cast my cares on God, completely.

What burdens do you need to release to Him?

Help me, Lord, to cast all my care on You every moment of every day. Show me someone who needs help carrying their burden. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 11:28–29.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.