Monday, November 18, 2019

Leave It at the Cross...?

("Studio 55D Atlas" sculpture found on
"Honey, you just need to leave that at the Cross."

Has anyone ever said that to you?  Have you ever said it to someone else?  To yourself?

I have.  And I'm an awful failure at it.  I lay it down, and then snatch it back up.  For all sorts of reasons.  Sometimes it's because I'm afraid God won't handle things the way I want Him to.  But mostly it's because it's hard for people to let go of something that we still have to live with.  Things like kids, cancer and unemployment.  It's hard to let go of something that requires you to continually make decisions, feel symptoms, drive carpool.  
And so, instead of leaving it (whatever "it" happens to be), tied up with a pretty bow at the foot of the Cross, we scoop it back up and carry it around.  Everywhere.  Even on my pillow as I wrestle through the night.  I can't leave my boss at the Cross because I have to go to work tomorrow.  I can't leave my teenager at the Cross because I kind of have to parent them.  I can't leave the puppy I'm second guessing at the Cross because my carpet will be frayed at the edges and soaked with pee.  Which is kind of what life feels like sometimes.

So, as I sat alone with God during a retreat this weekend, finally verbalizing something He's been waiting for me to say for a long time, I told Him I wasn't sure how I was supposed to give it to Him and walk away.  How to "leave it" at the Cross.

I kept telling Him I didn't think it was possible to simply let it go (no offense to Elsa).  And, sitting there in the quiet, I couldn't find verses telling me that's really what I was supposed to do.

What I did find was even better, because it was something I can do. It was something I couldn't fail.  It was Jesus telling me to simply come to Him.  To yoke myself to Him and let Him bear it for me while I walk through it.  That He's already borne the yuck of it all, and that He'll hold my hand or hold me up when it gets hard.  If I stay, rather than leave.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I can't tell you how freeing that moment was.  I'm not a failure.  And I honestly thought I was.  Because for a long time, I've been trying to bear a certain something alone, since I'd failed at leaving it alone.  And bearing it alone left me fearful, paranoid, and grouchy.  Completely not fun to be with.

But Jesus was teaching me that we don't just lay our pain and suffering down and walk away.  We simply can't.  Life won't allow it.  But we can hand it to Someone who can bear it for us - whatever that "it" is. However heavy or impossible it seems. He's already shouldered it, so I don't have to.  I just have to abide in Him as He carries it.

And abiding, as I learned from Kim Greene this weekend, isn't a passive stance.  It isn't a sweet, quiet submission.  Abiding in Jesus means I can bring tears and rants and confusion and anger and shame.  Because by bringing it to Him, I'm acknowledging He has the answers and the power to heal/fix/save, even if I don't receive the healing/fixing/saving I want in that moment.

Now, all of this may surprise those who know me.  Especially those who have heard me teach on this very verse.  Even just a couple of weeks ago.  I asked a room full of women the question, "Are we going to yoke ourselves to our fears and our hardships, or are we going to yoke ourselves to the One who gives rest to our souls?"  

I'm such a poser.  That's what I just confessed to my husband.  And he agreed.  Emphatically.  But continued, laughing, by saying that we are all posers.  He's so good for me.

Now I'm accepting that I don't have to leave things at the Cross.  That leaving them is actually way too hard, and pretty much impossible. That I can - and will - continue to struggle, because the struggle is real.  And that it's really okay that I can't "leave it at the Cross."  Because Jesus left it there.  Nailed to it, in fact, stained with His blood.  So I can trust that He is intimately acquainted with my "it."  Just as He is intimately acquainted with yours.  

That's how He already knows it's too much for us.  And why He can take it when we cry and yell and stomp our feet even as we hand Him the reins.  There's gut-level honesty in that.  And still He says, "Come to me..."

I promise I will never again tell you - or myself - to leave hard things at the Cross.  But I will always urge all of us to come to Jesus, and to say all the words and feel all the feels.  And then to stay and never leave.  And find together that, as we remain there, our burden grows lighter.  Not because it's gone, but because a stronger, wiser, powerful One is holding us together.