Sitting on the bottom step of the stairway in the homeless shelter, she asks me this question. It’s not a simple question and there is not a simple answer. She has just heard me speak of how God is waiting for us to come to Him with everything – our circumstances, our problems, our pains. She tells me she wants to give these things to God but she doesn’t know how. She hasn’t spent her life in church. Her mother died when she was young and her father took her to church only once in her childhood. She believes in Jesus and has given her heart to Him, but how does she give Him her fear? How does she give Him her homelessness? How does she give Him her body which is broken and handicapped? How does she give Him her addiction?
In this moment I repent of any occasion I may have flippantly commented “Just pray and give it to God!” as if it were that simple.
Her question reminds me of my own struggles of learning how to give things to God. It has been process that has taken years while I’ve been primarily surrounded by Christians and highly involved in church! She is alone, surrounded by strangers and an atmosphere that breeds despair and hopelessness.
Too many times we are quick to try to start people in the middle rather than the beginning. I remember trying to teach a young woman to sew. I had been sewing for many years by this time, and I kept assuming she knew things she didn’t yet know. It was a frustrating experience for both of us! I had to drill down to the most elementary levels (this is where the needle goes….) and I hadn’t really planned on investing that much time….
“Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
For a first-timer wanting to learn how to give things to God, what would be the key word in this scripture?
Cares? Focus on all the needs?
Cast? Focus on what we are supposed to “do”?
I believe that’s the middle. The starting point has to be Him. If we don’t know Him – who He is, what He’s like, and what we can expect from Him – then we struggle with giving Him our problems. If we don’t really know Him, we won’t really trust Him, especially with our deepest pains and difficult circumstances.
The intention of the verse above is that we are to throw the whole of our cares – all our anxieties, all our worries, all our concerns – once and for all on Him!
Think of someone you really trust. If you give that person something to take care of and they tell you “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this”, you walk away and don’t really think of it anymore. You certainly don’t call them repeatedly all day long and ask them if they are still going to take care of that for you. You don’t pace and wring your hands wondering if they will do what they said they would do. Your mind and time are free to do other things because you trust them.
“He cares for you.” I always read that as if it only meant He cares about me because He loves me. It does mean that, but that’s not all. It means He has said “I’ll take care of you and all that concerns you”. He doesn’t take away every trial and struggle, but He takes care of us in the midst of them and works all things for our ultimate good. So why are we pacing and wringing our hands?? Because we don’t trust that He will do what He said He would do when He said “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. We quote Jeremiah 29:11 but don’t really trust that His plans for us are good.
So as we sat on the steps, I shared those scriptures with this young woman. I gave her a scripture promise book that would help her find specific scriptures on fear and other topics. But mostly I talked to her about Him. I told her of His goodness and His faithfulness and that He could be trusted. I encouraged her to read and pray and get to know Him and He would teach her how to give every aspect of her life to Him.
I will probably never see this young woman again. I don’t have the resources to meet her physical needs and the shelter is a temporary home for her. By the time I return, she will most likely be gone. She will move on. So I’ve asked God to take care of her. He said He would, so I’m looking forward to seeing her in heaven. We will laugh and talk and rejoice in all that He did for both of us as He taught us how to cast our cares.