Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We Can't Give Jesus Our Burdens Unless...

We Acknowledge We Have Them

By K.D. Harp

Life has hurled enough stones my way that like you, I've had a few cares. Because of them, I better understand the unimaginable support one can get from a Spirit who cannot be touched, but can touch our hearts. While people complained about 'stolen' baby names, the luxury car they couldn't afford, or the sprain they got trying to make middle-aged bodies play young people's games, I endured personal betrayals ranging from simple defamation to outright abuse, over a decade of infertility, and three early miscarriages; all situations that break marriages and people. I've had cares.
Thanks to God, here I sit, still married, and while a bit dinged, unbroken.
The beautiful thing in these struggles has not been what so many in the faith do. I didn't try to rationalize bad things into something spiritually pretty. The beautiful thing is enduring ugliness and pain, and clinging ever harder to God's promise throughout the process. And when a trial is past, the greatest gift on the sunny end of a struggle is: knowing when the going gets awful, we can't help but stick to God, even when we don't understand, even when it's not our will.
"Write something encouraging," Ada Brownell advised. I can't think of anything more encouraging than this for getting through the day by day of living on this earth.
So why do people of faith not only refuse to cast their cares, they don't even acknowledge them?
Look at Death. You can't break sod on a new grave without someone pulling out a "Death where is thy sting?" quote as a spiritual challenge to anyone openly mourning. Their message is clear: You should only be happy for dear Sister Beloved who is now with the Lord. If you aren't so full of joy like me about where they've gone, then something's wrong with your faith.
Oh yeah?
Then why is it written "to everything there is a season, a time to rejoice, a time to mourn?"

That's Old Testament, they might argue. We live under a Risen Lord.
We sure do. And, we're to follow Him, right?  So why did the Son of God, who knew He could conquer death, let his friend Lazarus die, and bring him back from the dead, after he wept over him before witnesses?
I mean, come on. Jesus knows He's going to heal his friend. He of all people knows about Eternal Life and what we have waiting for us on the Other Side of mortality. He should be happy for his dead friend, right? He can just walk up and declare Lazarus was only sleeping and have him join him for some water turned into wine.
If there's anyone in this town that doesn't need to mourn Lazarus, it's Jesus.

But He does.
Shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept.
Since He knows He's about to heal His friend, logically the only reason He did this is to offer a role model for us. It's OK to weep. (At least, it's OK to Jesus).
"Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." This is not a spiritual Band-Aid for emotional boo-boos. It isn't a kiss-and-make-it-better promise. This is instruction from God the most High.
Talk to me. Tell me what's on your mind. Share with me. Having acknowledged it, let it go. Give it to me. Surrender control of the situation.
But we can't surrender if we won't admit it exists.
"Cast your cares," He says.
Acknowledge Christian life isn't all the sunshine and roses so many wish it to be. You don't have to deny it hurts. He knows. We don't have to spirit speak our way out of admitting that while a miscarriage may have prevented someone living a life with mental or physical deformities, it still hurts. Being judged and rejected unfairly may be God's method of getting you or a loved one out of harm's way, but it hurts. The death of a Godly person means they're finally where they've wanted to be for a long time, but they're not with you now, and that hurts.

Lazarus is going to be dead until I resurrect him a few seconds from now. I think I'll cry.

Why would He do that?
Cast your cares. All of them.
The most Godly people aren't the ones rejecting loss believing this somehow pleases God. It's not the ones refusing to admit while death doesn't have the sting of damnation any longer, it does still have a sting of loss. They're the ones who will weep, like Jesus did, and they love God despite their loss and pain, like He did. 
When we've been there and done that, it affirms our faith like no season of sunshine and rainbows ever will.
How's that for encouragement?

An inspirational suspense novel by K.D. Harp

Lt. Col. Boone Ballestra's finally found the courageous woman of his combat weary dreams.
(Too bad he’s gotta dump her to save her from his sister’s Mafia in-laws.)

Hugs & home-baked cookies sound good to a Marine back from OPS, but Boone’s got nothing but a note from his sister putting him on deck to fetch his 4 year old niece ...20 minutes ago. A lifetime of cleaning up family messes makes this no surprise, but lead-footing it into camp just in time to stop the child’s Mafia Grampa
from abducting her IS. The toxic in-law plans to stop Boone’s sister from testifying against his murderous son by making a pawn of his innocent grandchild. Fortunately camp director Brianna Parrish confronts the mobster, or spunky Savannah would be lost to them forever.
...It's not exactly how Boone planned to impress the woman who helped him watch over his sister while he served his country. Back home and in control, he has no intentions of relying on outsiders again, but his sister goes missing and Boone discovers knowing 100 ways to subdue an adversary is useless when it comes to your basic preschool princess wrangling. Brianna's gifted insights however, console his traumatized niece, and decode parts of Boone he's kept camouflaged from the world (and himself.) She even teaches the man with a boatload of concerns to 'cast his cares' on God, which sounds just dandy, until Brianna foils the mob’s plans one time too many and puts herself in their cross-hairs.
Boone pushes away the love he’s lacked all his life in order to keep Brianna safe. It's the perfect plan, (if only she were the kind of gal to abandon the people she loves). When she doesn't, Brianna’s marked for death.
Boone will trade his freedom for Brianna’s in a heartbeat---
----which it just might cost them.

Available in Paperback, large print, Kindle, Nook and Kobo formats.