Our atmosphere is comprised of different layers and the lowest one is the troposphere, and then up above that is the stratosphere. And the troposphere can be pretty turbulent. And so if you want to get above the turbulence, you want to get up into the stratosphere. And especially when times are stormy, we want to get up; we need to be lifted up into that stratospheric faith. And so today, I know that life is stormy for so many of us, and I include me in that. My life has not been all placid and tranquil. We have had, as you all know from the news, we have had our own share of storms and challenges here at Crystal Cathedral. But storms are nothing new to us at Crystal Cathedral.
I was going to have dad come up and tell the first story, and I called him yesterday and said “dad, do you want to tell the story?” And he said “no I’d like to just sit and listen and you tell it.” So okay, I’m not going to be able to tell it as well as dad and it’s really kind of inhibiting to have him sitting right behind me, the master story teller. When dad was in college, he came home for vacation one time and the skies got dark and there was a storm pending and looming. And grandpa and grandma said get in the car because they saw the twister drop down. And they knew that they had one way to get away from the twister and that was to outrun it. So they went the opposite direction from where the twister was coming, the tornado. They sat and they watched in their car from a safe distance until that tornado went back up into the skies and then they drove back home.
And as they came up the crest of the hill, and they looked down to where that farm had been, there was absolutely nothing. Not a barn, not a house, not a chicken coop; it was gone. Everything they’d worked for their whole life was gone. And I remember dad telling the story about his dad, my grandpa, my grandpa Anthony, Tony, and he was the gentlest, most gracious man you’d ever hope to meet, but according to dad, he was there in the car with him, grandpa beat on that steering wheel and he said “Jenny, its all gone, Jenny, its all gone.” Can you even imagine what it was like for this family? To drive down to their farm yard, not have a roof over their head, not have their barn, not have their source of livelihood, to have it all gone. And they dug through the rubble and they found a plaque that had been hanging in the kitchen all these years and it originally said “keep looking to Jesus,” but all they found was one half that said “keep looking.” “Keep looking.” And they rebuilt.
But there’s another part to the story that I don’t think any of you have heard. And that is dad went out and bought a new plaque for the new kitchen. And I have that with me today. And it says this: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” 1st Peter 5:7. It hangs in my kitchen today and its one of my most prized possessions and it’s the thesis, it’s the text for today’s message, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
So when the storms of life come and they will, we will show you today how to rise above them, how to survive them, how to come out on the other side even stronger than before. And I want you to imagine your life as like a hot air balloon and right now it’s probably weighted down with one of the five most common cares. Remember the verse says “Casting all your cares upon Him,” and as a pastor and as an educator in talking and walking with people who are hurting, I’ve identified what I think are the five most common cares that people carry around with them. They are burdened and weighed down by.
The first one is animosity, resentment, bitterness. You know, there are many of us who are weighed down because we hold a grudge. There’s somebody that has hurt you, and you’re afraid to forgive them because you’re afraid you might get hurt again. And that’s normal, that’s natural to put that protective barrier up, but this bitterness, this animosity; this resentment can really weigh you down. It can eat at you like cancer of your soul. And we have these five common cares, but I want to tell you today that God gives us five cures for the five common cares. And the care for this one, I’m sure you can all think of what it is, its just plain old forgiveness. Not easy to do. But forgiveness is the cure for resentment, bitterness and animosity. And I see and hear too many people who are holding on to those grudges. You may be in a similar situation to a friend of mine, who was telling me “Sheila, you know what, I loaned money to a family member because of the tough economic times. I loaned him $35,000.” I thought wow. And he said “And I thought he would pay me back. And he hasn’t paid me back. And every time we get together at family meetings, I go right up to him and I say ‘when are you going to give me a payment? I just want a payment. When are you going to talk to me? I just want some money. I need the money, please, talk to me. Send me the money.’ And he ignores me. And now there’s this wedge in our family because he won’t pay me.” And I looked at my friend and I said “its only money.”
Well that’s all I said. But a few days later, he came up to me and he said “Sheila I’ve been thinking and thinking about that, ‘its only money,’ and I’ve been thinking about the Lord’s prayer where it says ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’” And he says “Jesus has forgiven me my debt to Him, I can in turn forgive the debt of my family member. And I’ve decided if he pays me back, any of it, fine. If I don’t see another penny of it, fine. In my heart of hearts, it’s now a gift to him. And I feel so free! I feel so lifted up.” There are times when people have hurt me, they’ve said things to me, they send me letters. And when I read something that has hurt me, I’ve learned to pray immediately this prayer that Jesus taught us on the cross. “Father forgive them, for they know what they do.” I really believe that nine times out of ten when we’ve been hurt by somebody, they didn’t mean to hurt us. They didn’t mean to. They didn’t know what they were doing. There are fractures in families, there’s animosity sometimes in jobs, bitterness towards employers who had to let you go. Whatever it is, whoever you’re feeling resentment, bitterness or animosity to, accept the cure that Christ teaches of forgiveness. And I just want you right now to close your eyes, and say “God, whom do I need to forgive?” A face has probably popped into your mind right now. And say it, “Lord, You forgave me so I forgive..” “Lord, You forgave me so I forgive..”
And so we want our hot air balloon to rise above the stormy times and the turbulence and we want to cast away a care, do we not? So that that hot air balloon can go up. Gone. Done. There it goes, resentment, bitterness and animosity and we’re going to replace it with forgiveness and your hot air balloon is rising.
The second one is worry, fear and anxiety. And you know you’ve heard that we’ve had our own storms and challenges here at the Crystal Cathedral, and I want to tell you a little story. This is a true story. It was just a few weeks ago and we were up on the 12th floor of the tower. Now all the buildings around here are made of glass, are they not? Dad loves glass and we all love glass and we were up there on the 12th floor which is all got glass walls all around it, and we were talking about the finances. We were looking at the money we needed, at all of our expenses and we were trying to come up with a plan, and it was looking grim. I was looking at these numbers going wow, you know, this is concerning. I know we can do it, but it’s going to be painful.
And meanwhile, the storms were physically raging around us as well. The winds were howling and the rain was coming down in a deluge and right in the middle of the meeting, dad’s secretary Kristin came in and she said “there’s a tornado warning and you’re not supposed to be anywhere near glass.” So we sat there, we looked around us and we were like “okay thank you Kristin,” and we just kept right on meeting. And I thought here we are, there’s a tornado in the Cathedral practically, or at least a warning of one. And the storm, the fiscal storm as well and just then I looked up and out the window I saw the Cathedral. And I said “Look everybody! Look, look, look. There’s a rainbow right over the Cathedral!” And we took a picture of it; can you see the rainbow? It looks like God painted a rainbow right then and there. Why? To tell us and to reassure us, I am not done. This is My ministry. I claim this. I promise this to you. This is My ministry and nothing, nothing, nothing will hurt My ministry.
God said, and I’m reading the words from Genesis, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you a covenant, a promise for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” Wow. The God of the universe has your back. The God of the universe has a covenant between you and Him. In the middle of a storm, look for the rainbows. They are there. I had so many people call me, so many congregants that were driving down the freeway and some of them saw two rainbows over the Cathedral. They had to pull over, stop and cry and pray and thank God for the rainbows and the reassurance that He has us in the palm of His hand and He has you in the palm of His hand. So okay, here we have this care: fear, worry, anxiety. Shall we cast it away? Shall we cast it away? Let’s cast it. Boom. Done. And we’re going to let the faith, we’re going to choose to discover the cure for this common care, which is faith and let it lift us up in the midst of a storm.
Well the third one is pain, depression and grief. You know one of the things I’ve learned in all of my studies in getting my doctorate is that one of the things that is scariest for people is when they feel like things are out of their control. When they have no control over how to get a job. They have no control over their children and what will happen to them. Or to feel they have no control over their life and their destiny. Well, that can cause depression. The grief and the pain can come from loss and where there’s been so much loss and jobs, loss in relationships, grief, losing friends, losing parents and even spouses. And with depression and pain and grief, there’s one common cure that I have learned the hard way over these last years I’ve lived, and that is that you do have the freedom to choose how you will respond to whatever happens to you.
We learned that through Viktor Frankl. He’s the father of logos therapy. And when he was in the concentration camp and everything was stripped away from him, and they took away his wedding band, he said you can take everything away from me but this. You can never take away from me the freedom to choose how I will respond to what happens to me. Do you know that we serve meals to the homeless here on Monday’s, Monday Meals? And then on Tuesday’s, we have this wonderful women’s bible study and one Tuesday we had a woman, a homeless woman come to bible study. And she was sitting in one of the groups and she introduced herself; when they asked her where she lived, she said “I don’t have a home, but she said God’s, God’s earth is my floor, His sky is my ceiling and I have no walls to keep me bounded away from anybody else.” Wow. Wow. She has chosen to respond positively; positively to her circumstances. And so I believe that the cure for the common care of pain, depression and grief is this: its praise. Praise God! Praise God! When you are in the midst of whatever you’re in the midst of, you say God thank You, thank You, thank You.
And so we’re going to take pain, depression and grief, don’t need to, don’t need to. You can choose to be happy anyway. You can choose to praise God anyway. Shall we cast this one aside too? Okay, let’s go. Down you go. And with praise, we get lifted up even higher and higher and higher.
Inferiority, inadequacy; another common care. I can’t do that. I can’t take that on. I’m not trained, I’m not equipped. You know I wasn’t supposed to be here. I’m a woman. And I struggled with inferiority and inadequacy. When I was young, there were opportunities that were given to me and they haven’t even stopped, but I’ve been given opportunities in my life because I’m Dr. Schuller’s daughter. And when I first got married to my wonderful, wonderful husband Jim, he said to me in all of his wisdom, in fact, an opportunity came and he said “Sheila you should do this” and I said “Jim no. I feel inferior. I don’t feel adequate, I don’t feel trained. Why? The only reason they want me to do that is because I’m Dr. Schuller’s daughter.” “Well Sheila,” he said “don’t you think that God knew that Dr. Schuller’s daughter would be given these opportunities and He would equip and He would have gifted Dr. Schuller’s daughter with the gifts and the knowledge and the abilities she would need so that she could do all that she would be afforded, all those opportunities.”
Wow. That completely changed my whole paradigm of who I am. And I started looking at, okay God; this is where You’ve placed me. You had me be born to Dr. Robert and Arvella Schuller. And as a result, I’m going to make the most of these opportunities and do the most that I can for You with them. I discovered my divine purpose. When you discover your divine purpose, what God created you to be and to do and believe me, He has. God don’t make no junk. He knew precisely who you were going to be and He created you for a divine purpose. And when you discover that and you live your life for that, you can take inadequacy and inferiority and cast it away. The cure for the common care of inferiority and inadequacy is purpose. Living your purpose. Doing what God created you to do.
And last but not least is the care of humiliation, guilt, shame. You know one of my favorite things to do is to work with children. And we have a preschool here, and one day Miss Marlene Kikta, she is our preschool director and she was doing her rounds like she does frequently, and she went into one of the little preschool classrooms. And this little girl, I’ll call her Lani, Lani came over to Marlene and she said “Miss Marlene, Miss Marlene, come see, come see.” So Miss Marlene walked over to Lani where she had a Noah’s ark and all these little animals, two by two getting ready to go in and she said “See these? See them? See there’s the animals, Miss Marlene.” And then she said “Now come look over here, Miss Marlene,” and they went around to the other side and there were rows of little toy people all lying face down. She said “Those are the dead people who made poor choices.”
Well, you know we believe that yes you can choose to be happy and you can choose to accept God’s grace. We make so many choices in life but the most important choice you can ever, ever make is to choose God’s grace. He came, He died, He lives today so you can be free from this care. You do not have to carry that guilt around anymore. Whatever you’re feeling guilty about, God has forgiven you. If you can’t remember that, you keep thinking about oh my goodness, I keep remembering, I keep remembering, I can’t forget. Well like I tell children, I say if you can’t forget, then remember. Remember you are forgiven. Don’t let guilt, humiliation or shame weigh you down anymore. Cast it aside and accept the grace of Jesus Christ today.
Let us pray: Almighty God, heavenly, heavenly Father, we cast all our cares on You because You care for us, You carry us and You carry all of our cares for us. We don’t have to be burdened down by them any more and we choose today, we choose Your cures for our common cares. We choose the care of forgiveness for others, we choose the cure of faith, we choose the cure of praising You even in the midst of tough times, we choose the cure of purpose, discovering our divine purpose in living it. And last but not least, we choose the cure, the gift of Your grace. Thank You Lord, that we can walk out of this place, Your house oh Lord today, leaving our cares behind. Amen.