"Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7....."Do not throw away your confident trust in Him no matter what happens." Hebrews 10:35...."Alas, we reverse the process: we cast away our confidence and carry all our care....We are so encumbered with ourselves that our minds are never free to be occupied with Him....You keep your confidence: He'll keep your care." Vance Havner
Why is it that we can know the above Scriptures so well, but experience their truth so little? I Peter 5:7 is one of the first Scriptures I learned, but it was many years before I came to experience its fullness.
I first came to plant a church here in Northern Virginia more than 25 years ago. I had the confidence and trust spoken of in those Scriptures.....to a degree. I had no idea that I would be challenged far beyond that degree. Growth in grace will always have that element to it. The Lord will take us to places beyond our ability, beyond our present level of trust. The book of Exodus tells us that "Moses stepped into the darkness, where God was." The journey of faith will surely take us into the darkness. Can we believe that, as He was for Moses, He will be there for us?
My first years here in Northern Virginia were challenging. We had few people, and even fewer resources. Yet I believed He would make a way...and He did. Slowly but surely He opened door after door. Eventually, He made a way for us to secure a permanent site in which to meet. Costs were higher than we were used to, but with God's help, we felt we could do it. He was faithful, and we had rich days in that facility. Than our lease ended, and our landlord wanted to give our place to a business that was willing to pay much more than we could. Added to this, the economic picture had radically changed in the five years we'd had our facility. Costs were more than doubled. We searched for a new site, and prayed as we searched. We found a facility that was suitable, but twice what we had been paying. We discussed the challenge, and felt that we should step out in faith and move into the facility. As we did this, we stepped into the darkness.
Steps of faith always include the completely unexpected. What people say they will do is not always what they will do. We moved, but a number of people didn't move with us. An already big financial challenge got much bigger. Our reserves carried us through for almost a year...then our reserves were gone. We were sure we would grow and see the finances grow as well. We didn't. They didn't. The financial pressure grew in intensity. Soon it went from monthly pressure to weekly, than to daily. How would we pay the rent, the utilities? In it all, I took it upon myself to carry this burden, and it was literally destroying me. Stress and anxiety were constant companions. I had done exactly what Havner spoke of. I'd cast away my confidence and I was carrying all of the burden. I kept seeing the problem, the need, and so I could only see myself and my response in return. I couldn't see Him. I couldn't hear Him. It was almost as if I didn't know Him. The church could no longer pay me, so I had to take an outside job, but even so, the costs, which were more than $4,000 per month just for the facility were overwhelming. The weariness, the heartache, the burden, just kept getting larger, heavier. It would be like this for two more long years.
I was in a place I'd never envisioned. The Father seemed so far away. The voice of Jesus seemed so silent. I blamed them. I didn't see myself as being the root of the problem. I didn't see the problem was me trying to be Them in the midst of it all. If there had been an escape route, I would have taken it. There wasn't, at least not in the natural realm. There was one in the spiritual. The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit. Would I yield this impossible situation to them? Would I begin to see that in all the pressure, worry, stress, they had been there, providing, making a way, even as I had tried so hard on my own to "make it happen?" Finally, one morning, with my living room couch as an altar, I yielded it all to Him. And He took it all upon Himself. And what had been darkness became light. What had been despair became hope. What had been defeat was now victory.
The circumstances didn't change. The challenges were still there. What was different was what was within me. I knew that somehow, in all of it, He would make a way, and He did. We got through the fullness of the lease, and eventually came out of the desert and into the "broad land." In the process, I learned much. "Steps of faith" can sometimes be steps of foolishness. We shouldn't have taken the step that we did. We missed it, but we hadn't done so out of pride or disobedience. We just missed it, but in our missing, He didn't. He made a way for us, for me, and in the making, brought me a peace beyond what I thought possible. He gave me back my confidence....in Him, as I gave my care to Him.
I'm not sure why I write this today, except I feel His prompting to. Maybe you're walking just where I was. Maybe you're so encumbered with the problem, with yourself, that you can't see Him. Maybe you too have cast away your confidence and carry all your care. Maybe you've taken a step you thought right, but it isn't. Maybe you know the Scriptural promise, but are far from experiencing its truth. Maybe you need to find your own altar, and at it, the Father Himself. Maybe it's time, past time, to cast your burden upon the Lord, and in that casting, find Him...in the darkness.