Lay and Leave Exercise

Two of my all-time favorite worship songs involve the cross (probably more to be honest). The two songs I am referring to are, “Lay It All Down” by United Pursuit, and “Leave It All” by Iron Bell Music. I highly recommend you check out both songs (and both bands for that matter). I want you to focus on what both songs say, LAY and LEAVE. Often Christians will lay it all at the feet of Jesus, but soon return to just pick back up what isn’t ours to carry, again and again. Both songs bring me to my knees, and frankly to tears because they remind me of the price that was paid by Jesus on my behalf. Yes, grown men do cry. After all, John 11:35 tells us, “Jesus wept” (NIV).  What do you have to say now? Ok, I am moving on.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (16:24-25, NIV). We humans often carry so much “baggage” around that we are burdened by it. Both of the songs as mentioned earlier, helped reveal the guilt and shame I carried each day that was not meant for me to carry but was meant instead to be left at the cross. Now, years later, I can see that, and I did not want to burden God with all my baggage. It’s also appropriate to say my pride was too vital for me to admit that the load I was carrying was too heavy. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)”

Pride can increase our load in two ways:

  1. We carry all of our burdens (and OFTEN those of others) on our shoulders, almost like a trophy of pride to show off just how strong we are, and that we can do life on our own.
  2. We carry all of our burdens (and OFTEN those of others) but instead of showing them off to others; we conceal them, pledge to never let them surface or be brought to light. Ephesians 5:12-14 states; It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (NIV).”

In result, we are a mess on the inside but we put on the infamous ” I am fine” mask so that no one notices or worries about us.

I can say I have experienced both methods pride uses to keep us burdened and weary. If you can relate, please don’t be discouraged (for this is what the enemy wants), but know that you are understood and loved by a savior that is victorious over all, Jesus.

Pride may be keeping you in the habit of showing off to others how strong you are. Likewise, pride may be keeping you from revealing those heavy burdens you carry, and no one is aware of. Or, if we can be real, pride may be doubling up your load. If so, it’s ok, pride does the same to many others, myself included.  When you carry around things that were meant to be left at the cross, you are ultimately saying, thanks for your sacrifice Jesus, but I got this. We may not say it in such a direct way to Jesus, but with all truthfulness that is what we mean.  You may think your darkest secrets and burdens are concealed from everyone on this earth. Depending on your ability, to hide things, which is not really something to brag about, like most of the culture believes, they very well may be. But the truth is, our Father in Heaven knows all about them, just ask David (or read Psalm 139, since he may be out of town HAHA). 

When you realize God doesn’t want you burdened by the guilt and shame of your past, you understand it isn’t a trap, but instead a gateway to ultimate freedom. In the same manner, God is not impressed by how much weight you can carry (or bench press for that matter). After all, His son Jesus, carried the heavyweight of all of humanity to the cross and paid the price that none of us could pay (now that is something to boast about). The fact that Jesus was perfect, and yet paid the price for the sins of those who call Him their savior, is hard to comprehend. Once we grasp how unworthy we are of His grace, we are more willing to not use it as license to do what pleases us, but instead as the gift it is to live life in the fullness of His ways.

As for myself, I now can see that I was carrying something that was stolen and did not belong to me, it belonged to Jesus because He paid for it all on the cross, and He was glad to carry what I could no longer carry on my own. Bottom line, Jesus was always willing to carry it for me, but I was too prideful to let go and let Him. Be honest with yourself.  Ask Jesus if you are carrying something that belongs to Him. After all, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He lifts our load. Remember the love of Jesus is perfect, “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:5, NIV). Start walking in freedom that was purchased by Jesus at the cross. If you are carrying anything that is not yours, I encourage you to take it to the cross, lay it at His feet, and leave it with Him for good.

Directions

Spend some time in prayer and stillness with the Lord. If need be, refer to the Prayer of Presence on the inside cover of the journal.

Ask God for the courage to be open with Him and to help you.

Ask God to give you the courage to lay aside your pride.

Ask God to give you the courage to lay what is His, and not yours, at the foot of the cross.

Ask God for the strength and courage to leave it at the cross, and the strength to not go back and pick up what is not yours to carry.

AGAIN THE FOCUS IS ON BOTH—- LAYING and LEAVING our burdens AT THE CROSS.

In the space around the cross, take all the time needed (some things take longer than others). Let God help reveal all the burdens that you are carrying that is not yours. When you feel God has given you the peace and courage to do so, take those burdens written, and write them on the cross as you decide to hand them over to Jesus for good. You may need to return to this exercise daily, monthly, or as a consistent practice for the remainder of your life, as this allows us to keep the yoke easy and the burden light. 

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