Removing Unwanted LayersAug 30, 2015 04:28AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
In light of the recent “National Dog Day,” I was reflecting on my newly shorn Shih Tzu Samson. Like his namesake in the Bible (Judges 13-16), he is strong and very hairy.
(If you’re not a dog fan, hang in there…I’m going somewhere with this—and as a sidenote, how can you not be a dog fan? Wink.)
My daughter and I spent an hour and a half one day out in a doggie-gated area of our backyard taking the clippers to our resident fuzzball. It was mother-daughter bonding time: many laughs over our mild-mannered but fed-up Samson. He was mostly patient as we practiced our haircutting skills, trimmed a little more beard here and there, gave him a manly tail shape, and assessed where we missed and he still looked a bit shaggy.
But under all that hair was a robust dog, strong and youthful, playful and now much cooler. Our home isn’t air-conditioned, so I could almost see Samson breathe a huge sigh of relief, pant a little less, and feel a bit more spry with the weight of his “wool” off. He looked like a lamb fresh from the shearing.
Oh, Samson, Buddy! We forgot how unencumbered you are without the heavy weight of your hair! How free! How cool! How lovely!
I thought about myself and others carrying around burdens. Maybe you are too. I considered what we look like—even feel like—when we take a few layers off, when we start stripping off the layers of worry and care.
Granted, we cannot always do that. We all have responsibilities and commitments, right? We can’t simply “drop hair” like Samson and now run about footloose and fancy free in the yard.
Or can we?
1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV, Apostle Peter speaking
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (emphasis mine).
Know what I read from that?
We can cast our “layers” onto Him—but not just because He says that we can.
We can do this because He cares for us.
Like Samson, however, it requires humility. We have to be willing to sit there, patiently, trusting our Master to give us the needed trim, knowing He really will take those anxieties—if we have the faith and courage to cast them on Him.
On any given day, I have layers that look like this:
· Concern for things I cannot control
· Taking offense
· Comparison with others
How about you? Have anything pressing on you that you really want to take off? Walking around with a yet-undefined heaviness stealing your joy?
The Good News in Jesus is that we don’t have to shoulder these things. He not only took care of them on the cross (“It is finished” of John 19:30), He continues to offer Himself as a place to lay our burdens down.
If you’re like me, then even once you’ve dropped those negative emotions down, you have a void. You start to miss your layers, even though they were dragging you down. After all, you were fairly intimate with and dependent on them. You used to take them out to dinner, buy them some nice jewelry once in a while, and even bring them to social functions.
What do you do when your layers are shed? When you now feel exposed?
Thankfully, the Apostle Peter told us which layers to put on; these are the very ones that keep the destructive layers away.
2 Peter 1:5-10, ESV, Apostle Peter speaking
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall (emphasis mine).
What are Peter’s suggested new layers?
· Brotherly affection
Oh man! That’s awesome, isn’t it? Don't those sound better than fear, worry, discontent, and envy?
Why exactly is it that these layers are ours for the taking if we’ve believed in Christ?
Because, as Peter so aptly states,
“he [that’s us!] was cleansed from his former sins.”
Um, yes! If we are already forgiven by believing what Christ did on the cross for us, we truly have no more business hauling around the negative layers.
If we believe this, that’s half the personal battle. So, what’s the reason we should believe this and live in the freedom of the beautiful layers bought for us with the cross?
Again, my friend (and yours) Peter:
“if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s getting closer to Fall weather here in New England. Temps are going to drop. By November, Samson the Shih Tzu may want a sweater.
It can get chilly when we drop our old layers. We now need something to replace them.
We’ve been given the means to be “effective” and “fruitful” in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a long way from overwhelmed and heavy-hearted, isn’t it?
If you want to put down your burdens, don’t forget to pick up the promises of good qualities that replace them. It’s the only way to keep that tangled, thick, hot hair from growing wild from you again like Samson.
Experience the beauty of layers of faith.
Why those? Because those are what lead you out of captivity and into freedom—a freedom to love others with brotherly affection, one that helps them to also drop unwanted, destructive layers and walk in the beautiful Light of the victory won at the cross.
Layers of faith enable you to bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to captives. I’d give up my old layers for that any day of the week.
How about you?
Isaiah 61:1, ESV, Isaiah the Prophet speaking
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.