Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cast Aside

The Bible describes our Christian life as a race. When I think about the reality of running an actual race, I am defeated from the thought process. I have not taken care of my body the way that I should. A year and a half ago when I felt in the best physical condition I had in a very long time, I remember surprising myself at Disneyland when I was able to run and do a decent job of keeping up with my kids. I was 30 lbs. lighter and conditioning my body daily. I probably couldn't have run a a marathon, but I could at least run a good solid sprint.

Today I have put the weight back on and I am suffering several injuries that are hindering me from even being able to get back on track. A pinched nerve in my back for months has developed into pain from the middle of of my back all the way up into the top of my neck. It's constant. An ankle injury that won't fully seem to heal still plagues me and favoring it has caused issues in both my knees and my hip. I couldn't run a physical race if I wanted to. If I tried I might just do even more harm.

Sometimes that sort of thing happens to us in the spiritual lives as well. An old injury plagues and hinders us in other capacities. A constant source of discomfort or pain comes upon us and the persistent hurt keeps us from even wanting to move, and completely saps us of any desire to actually aspire.

Physically I find myself at an impasse. I need to lose weight to be able to get moving to regain my strength. Without the ability to get moving and get exercise, the ability to lose weight is greatly hindered. Even if I change my eating habits, cut back, etc., I am likely to lose not only weight but the small amount of muscle mass I have. It is a defeating purpose. Yes, I can and should try to press through the pain toward some semblance of accomplishment, but there are limits, and lots of them.

Thankfully this isn't the case spiritually. There is an immediate solution to the burden of weight that hinders me. Unlike the months of effort and restraint that it would require to take off the weight, spiritually it is done with a single simple motion.

...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... Hebrews 12:1

Psalm 55:22 says it this way: Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you...

I remember on one of my many downward falls in physical weight, how I was teasing a pregnant friend. She would compliment me on my weight loss and I would thank her for being pregnant so there was a safe place for the weight to be found. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could just walk up to some skinny underweight girls and bump into her and provide for her lack with my abundance. I would be dancing down the halls of life hip bumping all sorts of skinny women and kids. But it's not like that physically. Yet spiritually, it is.

The Lord says, "give it to Me. I will not only take your weight, but I will give you My strength." What a great deal! He'll willing take my weight, my heaviness and my injuries as well, and bring strength and wholeness where there is infirmity... if I will let Him.

Reality is, I know this task is not as simple to walk out as I have made it sound. Too often in stubbornness or perhaps ignorance, we hold onto our burdens and our hurts and we in a total lack of faith don't even try to give them up. We are comfortable with the familiar, or frightened by the unknown, worst case scenario, sometimes we even define ourselves with our injuries and weights.

"I'm the woman with fibromyalgia of the spirit," if you will. Instead of being a person fighting an affliction, the risk is becoming a person defined by it.

I find myself at a crossroads. Physically I am concerned with becoming the woman with back problems with a long list of "can't do's," but even more, spiritually speaking, I am concerned with becoming a person defined by her hurts and her heaviness. Depression looms and discouragement sits on the sidelines of my life calling out. The easy thing to do would be to decide to define myself by those things, but something deep inside continues to resist.

There is a Truth that reigns inside me that says, "CAST!" Cast your burdens, your cares, your hurts, your fears! Jesus says, "Cast them on Me! I came so you would, I died so you could." And the beautiful thing is that when we do, we can finally be defined by the only Truth that should define us. And instead of hindrances, all these weights and burdens we carry become tools to be used in the process of becoming who we were always meant to be.

There is no wisdom wallowing in the hard stuff and the hurts, but there is nothing more wise than being obedient to the One who not only designed this whole "race" but designed the runner as well. I have no illusion that the application is simple, but I have full confidence that the process is, because God says it is. I CAN cast these things that weigh me down heavily upon Him, if I want to. I just have to want to badly enough. I have to want to run.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2