An in-depth look at the purpose of parables in Jesus’ teaching and the first of nearly 30 parables taught throughout his ministry, the Parable of the Sower. In this parable we learn that there are four soils—referring to four heart postures. We look at each of the four soils and what they represent, as well as the role of the sower—Jesus.
What the Bible has to say about casting your cares on Jesus can help free you if you are feeling trapped under the heavy weight of burdens today.
The Burdens of Life
Burdens. We all experience them. Job stress, financial strain, marital difficulties, the child who has lost their way, failing health; they come in many shapes and sizes, but they come for us all. However, the bible tells us that we are to cast our cares on the Lord.
But what does that mean?
The cares of this world hang on the clothesline of our hearts and steal our joy and zap our strength. You feel like you are running a marathon until you look down at your feet and realize they are stuck in the mud.
You know that God loves you, you know that he hears your prayers, and you know that he will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), but what happens when you feel like you have been thrown into the pit of despair and you can’t climb out?
What do you do when your anxiety blinds you to these truths about God?
The Fisherman on the Lake
Let me give you an example of casting in the natural.
Picture with me, if you will, an angler gliding his fishing boat down the sun-kissed waters of a river. He comes to a place in the water where he feels assured that he will find what he is searching for.
Perhaps he has been successful there before, maybe someone told him that this was a place of multitudes.
Either way, he drops his anchor slowly until it holds him securely to the solid ground. Most importantly, the fisherman knows he will not be successful if he drifts aimlessly; he knows the anchor holds.
As he skillfully casts his line into the deep, he does so with an expectation that there is going to be an exchange. The fisherman anticipates that as he throws what he has (the bait) into the water, a transaction will take place. He will trade what he no longer needs for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses (the fish).
But what does that mean for us?
Casting Our Line to Jesus
Like the fisherman, we are called to come to the Living Water and to drop our anchor into the solid foundation of Christ’s love, grace, and mercy. Similarly, through prayer, we place on our hook all of the things in our life that we want to exchange.
As the burdens of our world dangle like bait, we cast these cares into the deep, and we wait in anticipation for the transaction to take place; for God to take that which is no longer needed and trade it for that which feeds, sustains, nourishes, and blesses our heavy souls.
Fishing in the natural as well as the supernatural is a process. Time and patience are required to wait for the blessing. We must be willing to trust God in the waiting. (For more about waiting, read my YouVersion devotional, No Waste in the Waiting.)
There is an expression, “fish or cut bait”. This simply means that you must make a decision to keep advancing or to give up. What is also true, is that when we are praying, we must keep our line in the water and have faith that God will come and make the holy transfer.
Because, if we pull it out of the water too quickly, we may miss the blessing.
Let’s look at four ways that casting our cares on Jesus can become a reality.
Four Ways to Cast
Let me tell you that sometimes I am guilty of pondering my problems, thinking over them intently, and believing that this is enough for prayer. For the bible says that, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” Psalm 139:4.
It is true that God knows our thoughts, but I also believe that God is calling us to speak to him in prayer. Instead of just thinking on things, calling them out, and being specific about what is burdening us, and what we want God to do for us.
Remember that prayer is not for God, it is for us.
Releasing those fears and anxieties out loud can bring its own type of healing. You can’t change won’t you don’t acknowledge.
The truth is, there is power in letting go of those things that are holding us in the pit. There is an exchange that occurs when we cast our cares on Jesus and do it with our voices.
Here is what you need to do, cry out to God, shout your fears, scream what makes you anxious, whisper your needs—God wants to hear your voice!
Soak in the Word
First, get into God’s Word! Whatever it is that is keeping your feet trapped in the miry clay, the answer is found in scripture. Many people write to me and say, “I don’t where to look in the bible for answers.” The answer I give them is to use the technology that is right at your fingertips.
First, Google it! You can put any keyword + bible verse in the Google search bar and you will find many resources that will lead you to not just one, but many scriptures on the subject.
Then, take the time to read those scriptures, either online, or even better, in your own bible. Write them down, highlight them, put them in a journal, put them on sticky notes. Do whatever works best for you. The point is that you begin to see that all the answers to your questions can be found in the glorious scriptures.
Finally, try memorizing scriptures that pertain to your particular situation. Because, when you need them in those desperate times, they will be there and you can speak them to your problems.
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-22.
Sing: Praise and Worship
Oh how the enemy HATES worship! It’s true. There is nothing more effective at defeating the lies of the devil as when you sing songs of praise and worship to our God.
One thing that can happen when we are bogged down with burdens, is that it can make us very self-centered. Our focus becomes mired in— me, me, me.
This is a dangerous position to be in, and it is an open door for the enemy to come and tell you lies that sink you further into the pit. (For more about the lies of the devil, read my blog, “5 Lies from Satan You Must Stop Believing”).
Worship takes the focus off of us and places it directly on God. Rather than fixing your eyes on your problems, you fix your eyes on Jesus; casting your cares on the Lord through song!
Surround Yourself with Other Warriors
God did not design us to carry our burdens alone. My hope is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ who you trust and who can help you carry them.
Choose a few of your closest Christian friends and share with them the issues and struggles you are going through. In addition, ask them to join you in prayer and thanksgiving for the answers you are seeking. Because, keeping all of the fears, anxieties, and struggles to yourself can cause more undue stress.
When Moses could no longer lift the staff and the Israelites began to lose the battle, his two friends stepped in and helped him hold the staff up high.
We aren’t meant to do this life alone. Sometimes, the burdens are too heavy. Allow others to help you carry the weight so you don’t have to carry it alone. Essentially, allow others to help you win your battle.
Speak, sing, soak, and surround!
Friend, I know that you are going through a difficult time. Just know that God is there to carry the burdens you are trying to carry on your own. Be encouraged that God loves you and that he is making a way where there seems to be no way. Have faith and trust in God’s timing. Know that even if your prayers aren’t answered immediately, there is no waste in the waiting!
God’s blessings be with you,
Susie and Between the Gardens Ministries
This week, try and think of a strategy you can use to incorporate the 4 s’s to casting your cares on Jesus:
If you are going through a dry season and you are needing refreshing from the Living Water, order your copy of my new book, Abundant Rain from Amazon today.
Abundant Rain is a 40-day devotional dealing with the struggles, situations, past hurts, and regrets that can lead us to feel overwhelmed and spiritually dry. The devotional takes you on a journey of self-exploration through the Word of God to bring you life-giving water to quench your thirsty soul.
I also recommend you try my YouVersion devotional, Broken to Blessed. This 5-day devotional will walk you through times of brokenness and how to find the blessing from that which God breaks. (This devotional has over 10,000 completions!)
To stay up-to-date with all that is happening with Between the Gardens ministries, please consider subscribing to my website on the form below.
Are you there God?
Silence. Sometimes what causes us the most pain and confusion isn’t what God says to us, but the fact that in the midst of a difficult situation, God seems to say nothing at all. What do we do when God is silent?
I went through a heartbreaking situation several years ago that left me on the floor in tatters. My eyes were swollen and red from days of tears splashing down my cheeks.
These are the moments when you lay on the ground like a pile of dirty laundry and you cry out to God for help, for comfort, and for answers.
The sun rose and set day after day and I began to question God. Where was he? Did he hear me?
WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER ME?
Where is your treasure?
The pain that I was in became all-consuming. The situation that I was facing was as deep as the ocean and I was being consumed by the roaring waves. Hurt and heartbreak were my two faithful companions that went with me everywhere.
I could not work without them. They were with me in my bed in the night season. We shared every meal together. Nothing else mattered, they had become my treasure. For the worth that you place on something in your life is evident by your priorities.
But Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21. God was silent because my treasure was in the problem and not the provision.
I had a heart problem.
God’s silence is how it feels, but that doesn’t mean that is how it is.
Be on guard of the enemy during these times
The enemy will come to you in these times when you are spiritually dry and empty and he will whisper lies to you. And, like a moth to a flame, sometimes we lean in to him and allow him to plant seeds of doubt.
Know that your enemy will always try and defeat you when you are weak. He is a liar and the father of all lies. We must learn to protect ourselves with our spiritual armor for those times when he lingers near. (Read “5 Lies From Satan You Must Stop Believing” for more about this subject.)
Some of the greatest victories can come from those times when we are spiritually dry and empty. (If you are spiritually dry, order my new book, Abundant Rain, a 40-day devotional devoted to overcoming the dry places.)
It may feel like he is absent, but he is there, working in the background, making all things work together for your good. (Romans 8:28).
Deep calls to deep
Perhaps God is silent because he wants to teach us something about faith and trust. We want our problems to be solved and our questions answered right now; because we live in a society of “right now”.
Think about it, any information that you need, any questions you need answered can be done in seconds. But God is not Google and his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
What I learned from my situation is that God was calling me deeper; he saw me crying out to him from the shore, but he wanted me to come out upon the water where feet may fail but he won’t let me drown.
The deep things of God were calling out to the deep things inside of me. (Psalm 42:7).
The answer isn’t always obvious
I did not hear an audible voice answering the questions that I had for God about this situation, but that doesn’t mean that he was not speaking to me. As I began to shift my focus from the way things were to the Way Maker, I realized that his answers were coming to me in unique ways:
- Scriptures that spoke to my situation
- Worship music that lifted my heavy heart
- Friends who were there to encourage me
Not all of God’s riches are obvious. Some are buried below the surface and can only be discovered as we dig and search for the buried treasure.
Nothing is wasted
Little by little, day by day, God began to slowly bring me out of the broken place. I was able to come to him with arms open wide and soak up his love for me. I learned that much can be said in the silence. My job was to obey his command to be still and know that he is God and I am not. (Psalm 46:10).
Looking back now at that difficult time in my life, I see the abundant blessings that I received from the Lord. There were many lessons learned and most importantly, I grew exponentially in my faith and in my relationship with him.
I say all of this to encourage you, especially if you, too, are going through a time of brokenness and you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered and that God is silent.
There are two choices to make. We can pitch our tent in the campground of bitterness, pain, and callousness, or we can build an altar on the holy ground of his presence and watch, wait, worship, and pray until the answers come.
If you are in a broken place, I encourage you to read my YouVersion devotional, “Broken to Blessed” and I pray it is a helpful weapon in your arsenal as you fight this battle you are facing.
I pray you go deeper than you have ever been and know that although everything seems dark right now, the Light of the World is there with you every step of the way guiding you to victory.
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation in which you and your spouse are spiritually incompatible. You are what is know biblically, as unequally yoked; one of you is a person of faith and the other is not.
I have seen this happen a lot in the church today. Typically, it is women who are sitting alone in church. They confess that their husbands are believers, but they see no need to attend church every Sunday.
In my situation, the roles were reversed. When my husband and I were first married, it was me who was not going to church and my husband was strong in his faith.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I want to tell you my story, how I came to know the Lord, and how it changed the trajectory of our marriage.
Looking Back on My Marriage
My husband and I stood face to face on the beach; our hands interlocking so tightly it was hard to discern where one began and the other ended.
The sky, like an endless canvas, had been brushed by the Creator with striated hues of red, gold, and splashes of violet—colors and patterns no human artist could conceive.
I looked at my husband as the ocean breeze blew strong through our graying hair. He smiled his familiar smile; deep laugh lines like bookends for his crystal blue-gray eyes.
Twenty-five years ago, I stood in front of a boy and vowed to love him forever. The boy was now a man, weathered by life’s experiences, joys, and heartaches. Our lives had changed and blossomed in ways that we could have never imagined.
So much time had come and gone as gravity pushes and pulls the tide and the tide pushes and pulls the sand. We gazed at each other while we reaffirmed our vows.
The sun and the moon where both visible as dusk was approaching and they stood as our witnesses. But, as we held each other, waves licking our legs, we knew that it could have been so different.
You see, when we were married, we were unequally yoked.
What the Bible Says About Spiritual Incompatibility
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, yoke is defined as, “fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding to them the traces by which they might draw the plough.” (biblestudytools.org).
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul admonishes us, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The oxen were yoked together because they were both beasts of burden, designed for a similar purpose and mission. They would equally share the work.
In Deuteronomy 22:10, God actually forbids the yoking of two animals that are not the same, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” In this scenario, the stronger ox will end up carrying the majority of the load.
The often stubborn and unreliable donkey may refuse to move. The donkey may veer to the right or the left, leaving ground unevenly plowed; creating an atmosphere for important seed to go unplanted.
When my husband and I were dating, we ignored that we were on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum.
I had walked away from God and the church several years before. He was a spirit-filled believer who attended church every Sunday. There were red flags and caution signs, but we ignored them all.
We were deeply in love and blinded by that love. Looking back now, it is unbelievable that the discussion never came up. How good we were at planning the wedding, yet we forgot to plan for a lifetime of marriage.
After we were married, this issue grew from a tiny seed into Jack’s beanstalk in the middle of our living room. Every Sunday was the same. He invited me to church, I refused, he came home angry—rinse and repeat.
This went on for several months and the strain of what we once ignored was like a thin rope that was tearing more and more each week. Anger, resentment, and bitterness were sprouting where only love used to grow.
My husband felt spiritually divorced from me and it was hurting us both. I remembered a reading from our wedding from the book of Ruth, “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (1:16).
I knew something had to change; I knew I had to change.
I loved him and I didn’t want to lose him, and I didn’t want to be divorced. I swallowed my pride and I agreed to go with him to church. The first time I went I felt uncomfortable and out of place.
His church was so vastly different from what I grew up with. I wanted to run away that first time. The weight of the guilt I felt was overwhelming.
I know now that the Holy Spirit was convicting me. Like the prodigal son, my Father was calling me home and I felt unworthy of his love and acceptance.
After several months of reluctantly attending church, I made the decision to go to the altar and accept Jesus as my personal Lord and savior. The giant in the castle was defeated, and the beanstalk was cut down.
The rope was no longer tearing for we had added a third strand—Jesus—and “a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
We were no longer unequally yoked.
Becoming More Spiritually Compatible
Shortly after, I was water baptized. A few years later, I was leading worship, involved in children’s ministry, and dance ministry.
Today I have an online ministry, and I have written my first Bible devotional which will be released in a few months. My life, my faith, my eternity, and my marriage were forever changed.
I found out years after my conversion that my husband was praying for me every day. There were several members of the congregation that were praying for me every day. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16).
If You Find Your Marriage is Spiritually Incompatible
I want to encourage those who are reading this, and you find yourselves in a similar position. You know that you and your spouse are unequally yoked.
An ox can plow alone, and a donkey can plow alone, but they cannot plow together. It takes two of the same kind to successfully cultivate the soil of your hearts.
Perhaps you are feeling the strain of it and you are at the end of your thin rope. I want to encourage you to keep praying. All you can do is plant the seed and then wait for the Holy Spirit to do his part.
And if you hit a spiritual wall, keep praying and keep pressing in. You will find your breakthrough! (For more on spiritual walls, read my blog, “Hitting the Spiritual Wall.”)
In my situation, it was the fervent, unwavering prayers of my husband that saved me. It was not his insistence, his resentment, or his anger—it was prayer. You can’t change your spouse’s unbelieving heart—only God can do that.
Remind yourself daily of Colossians 3: 12–14, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Looking Forward in My Marriage
It could have been so different for my husband and I.
Through prayer, trust, and belief, we are now equally yoked; partners in love, in marriage, as parents, and in our faith. We press on together, both of us at the plow.
We walk side by side; equally pulling life’s load toward the next twenty-five years and beyond.
I pray for you and your spouse that you will find a way, through the grace of God, to become more spiritually compatible.
In this three-part series, we will be looking at discipleship. Part One guides us through scripture to define what a disciple of Christ is, and how we should strive to become one.
This is the story of two men who walked with the risen Jesus and didn’t recognize Him and how we often don’t realize that He is walking with us.
During this time of isolation, I have discovered many things about where I am spiritually. I have hit the spiritual wall and have come out on the other side, better than when I went in.
Anxiety and fear are very real, especially in this unprecedented time. Here are 7 days of scriptures you can pray to help you overcome these familiar and difficult emotions.
Are you in need of a physical healing? Here are 10 powerful scriptures to pray, journal, and memorize to bring you relief from illness and pain.
The devil will do anything he can to draw you away from growing closer to God. Here is a list of 5 lies from the devil that all Christians need to stop believing.