For almost four years, I did a lot of traveling by car. It was during the time I was still in a major job search after losing my job in Houston in April 2009. However, the traveling didn’t start until May 2012.
It started with a road trip to Atlanta in May 2012 to check out a couple of universities where I had applied for Student Affairs positions. Previous to this trip, I had been applying for higher education positions all over America since April 2009, and I stopped counting the number of jobs I had applied for in early 2011 when it hit 500. I didn’t want to be discouraged any longer by the number of jobs I had applied for up to that point in time, so I just stopped counting. During the first year and a half of my job search, I came very close to finding another job, but something always stopped it from happening. Even today I’m still at a loss to know what that “something” was after a successful twenty-year career in high education before I lost that job in Houston.
What started me on my road travels was a new set of tires after the original set showed signs of significant wear (bald is a good way to describe them) on my then seven-year-old car. I bought the new tires in April 2012, and they gave me the push I needed to hit the road in search of a job, at least in locations within a few hundred miles of where I was living at that time in Florida.
What I discovered once I started “hitting the road” was just how much I loved driving long distances on the open highway. In the four years starting in April 2012 when I did most of my traveling, I traveled as far north as Washington D.C., and as far west at Houston, Texas; and in October 2015 I drove back to my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, to attend my youngest nephew’s wedding. I also traveled all around Florida, and including a week long stop near New Orleans to check out a few universities where I had applied for jobs, and another week and a half long trip back to Houston (where I lost my job in April 2009). I liked living in Houston during the year I lived there back in 2008-09 despite the rather dismal job experience.
While I have never found that very elusive job in my career field, I did discover a part of America I was never able to take a really good look at during all of the years I worked. For one thing, I never had the time. However, a long bout with unemployment gives one plenty of time to discover other things, and my love for long road trips was one of those things I discovered.
Since my finances were very limited due to being unemployed, traveling by car was the least expensive way I could travel, and I found that the “journey” getting to any place in particular was more exciting then when I actually arrived at my destination. There is something about the “anticipation” while driving on the open road that trumps, at least for me, the actual end result of arriving somewhere. And I have never felt as free as I do when I’m on the open road driving, but not yet arriving, at my destination.
After I lost my job in Houston in April 2009 and my one-year apartment lease in Houston was up at the end of September 2009, I ended up back in Florida where I had left a year earlier to take that job in Houston. I found a cute little furnished apartment with utilities included in December 2009 that was affordable on what I was receiving from my unemployment benefits, and this apartment was my “base,” so to speak, where I always returned to after my road trips began in May 2012. Unfortunately, the house where my apartment was located was sold in early 2014, and the new owners wanted to use my apartment for their own purposes. So I lost my apartment and my base that I always had available to return to after my road trips.
It’s amazing how a long road trip (if one enjoys long road trips) can take the burdens of life off of one’s shoulders for a while, which is most likely why I loved being on the road more than I liked arriving at my destination. Arriving at my destination meant I had to take those burdens back again, and after several years of looking for work, I was at a total loss as to what to do with that burden since no “door of opportunity” ever opened up to me to find employment.
As a Christian, I was (and I am) aware that the Bible speaks to the issue of our burdens in many verses throughout the Bible, and one verse that comes to mind is Psalm 55:22 that states, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” During this time of my lengthy job search and my road trips, I was sure the end result was going to be that I would finally find that very elusive job, and my life would get back to normal again (e.g., career, church, social activities, and having a decent income to live on again–that was my goal). I “cast my burden” on the Lord so many times during this time that I’ve lost count (sort of like how I stopped counting how many jobs I had applied for early on in my job search).
In hindsight, what I didn’t realize was that my will (my goal) was not necessarily His will for my life (even though as a single, self-supporting woman I saw no other choice in the matter), and during the times when the burden to find another job was really great, which was quite often and almost to the point of being overwhelming, I’d end up taking a road trip, and those road trips turned out to be God’s gift to me in relieving the burden for a while. It was when I was on the road that my burden lifted and I felt free from it and revived again, even though I did not know when my search for a job would finally come to an end.
A Painful Phone Call
I just finished a phone call with a close friend. He faces problems. Big problems. He’s fearful. Worried. Hurting. He can’t see any good options—any good outcomes—and He doesn’t know what to do. And when I finished the phone call I felt burdened.
What Are Burdens?
We know what burdens feel like. They make our hearts feel heavy—like something is weighing them down. So what causes this? I think it’s usually because we see something painful in our future. And that fear of future pain is a weight—a burden—on our hearts.
Think about your own heart. Are you feeling burdened? If so, identify what pain you are fearing. Maybe it’s the pain of a broken marriage. Or a lost job. Or wayward children. Or poor health.
The reason you are burdened is because you are fearing that pain. But what can we do when we feel burdened?
Look at what David tells us to do with our burdens in Psalm 55:22—“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Whenever we are burdened, God promises to sustain us and not let us be moved (which means to be shaken or totter). But there is something we must do to receive this promise. We must cast our burden on the Lord.
What Does That Mean?
We often talk about casting our burdens on the Lord. But what does that really mean? After my phone call, when I felt burdened, I quoted this verse. I told the Lord I wanted to cast my burden on him. I asked him to take it. I said I didn’t want it. I asked him to lift it from me. But there was no change. My heart was still burdened. I did not feel the Lord sustaining me.
So what does it mean to cast a burden on the Lord? I went out to the creek trail and prayed about it. And I ended up taking four steps that powerfully helped me.
First, turn to God through Jesus
Don’t just say “it will be fine,” or “it will all work out,” or “God will take care of it.” None of those involve you actually meeting with the Living God. So turn your heart to God Himself. Come to God, cleansed by Christ’s blood and clothed with His righteousness. Turn to God and know that through Christ—he loves you, welcomes you, and promises to help you (Hebrews 4:16).
Second, ask God to keep this painful event from happening
Ask God to save your marriage, keep you employed, save your children, give you good health. To strengthen your faith, think about times when God delivered His people—Israel from Egypt, Joseph from his dungeon, Bartimaeus from his blindness.
Strengthen your faith, and then pray that God would deliver you from this painful event (Psalm 50:15). God may choose to deliver you, which would be a great mercy. But the Bible also teaches that He may not, which is why at this point you probably still feel burdened. So this next step is so crucial.
Third, trust that if He allows this painful event to happen, it’s to bring you more joy in Him.
Your greatest joy is knowing God, beholding God, loving God (Psalm 16:11). And God promises to orchestrate everything—including every pain, sorrow, and trial—to bring you even more joy in Him (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17).
So take time to set your heart on God. Use His Word to help you see His love, majesty, glory, and grace. Use passages like Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 6:1-7; Mark 15:39; Romans 5:1-10. Pray over God’s Word until the Holy Spirit helps you see and feel the all-surpassing worth of God the Father and Jesus the Son.
Now—look at your future. You see that this painful event might happen. But now you also see that if it does, it will mean not just pain, but gain—the gain of more joy in God now and forever. This is when the burden will start to lift—when we see and feel the worth of God, and that all future pain will bring us even more of God.
But there’s one more step to completely remove the burden.
Fourth, trust that if He allows this painful event to happen, He will take care of every need it creates.
He will. He promises. He will provide…
–all the wisdom you need to make tough decisions (James 1:5)
–all the finances you need to fulfill His call on your life (Matthew 6:33)
–all the comfort you need for your heartaches (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
–all the grace you need to keep faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 9:8)
–all the strength you need to persevere (Philippians 4:13)
–all the joy in Him you need to make this all worth it (Romans 8:18)
Pray over these promises until the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith. Pray until you trust that God will take care of your every need.
Cast your burden on the Lord
When you trust— really trust—that He might deliver you from this painful event, or that if He does not, He will bring you even more joy in Him through it, and that He will take care of every need it creates—your burden will be gone, because you’ve cast your burden on the Lord.
That does not mean it will never come back, but when it does, it’s because you’ve stopped trusting His promises. So go back through the steps, and fight the fight of faith until you are once again trusting His promises.
Why keep your burdens?
Understand that whenever you are burdened, God wants to take the burden from you. So don’t keep your burdens. Cast your burdens on the Lord. (Quote source here.)
We all have burdens that come at us from all directions. However, Jesus gave us an invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 when he said, “Come to Me, all you 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.” So . . .
Cast your burden . . .
On the Lord . . .
And He will sustain you . . . .
YouTube Video: “Mercy Came Running” by Phillips, Craig & Dean: