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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What a weight

There are millions of ways I get tired - some are from honestly rewarding things like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or doing a little spring cleaning of the closets.  Others are kind of silly and really don't seem all that rewarding, like a day spent lounging around the house watching videos and laughing with family.  Both can be equally tiring, but one thing is for sure - we all get tired. As varied as the reasons for our "tiredness" are, there is one thing we all have in common which tires us more than other things - when we carry burdens we were never intended to carry in the first place! Admit it - you do this on occasion - carrying stuff around in your mind and heart which really wasn't your burden to carry - especially alone!  When we do this, we are fatigued beyond our ability to recover alone - so it is best we learn how to lay down what we really don't have any business carrying in the first place!

If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 CEV)

George Bernard Shaw once said, "People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them." There is more truth to this statement than we might first want to admit. For some of us, the idea of letting go of that burden just seems so foreign, as though if we did we'd have nothing left to do in life! We used to joke with my mom saying if she had nothing else to worry about she'd worry about having nothing left to worry about.  There are just times in life when we find "letting go" hard because we think we will have nothing left if we do. The truth is - we weren't designed to carry whatever it is we are carrying, so trying to carry it puts us under undo stress!

Brandon Lee was a great martial arts actor who died from an accidental gunshot wound. During his life, he is quoted as making many statements about the martial arts, but one statement really brings to light what I'd like us to consider today:  "You only have the burdens on you that you choose to put there."  I don't know the circumstances in which he spoke these words, but the truth contained within this statement is important for all of us to understand. We "choose" to put the burden into our hearts and minds.  We "choose" to carry what we don't really need to carry - even when we tell someone we do so because we feel "obliged" to do it.  There is no "obligation" to carry burdens - there is an obligation to pray for each other, to support each other, etc.  There is no obligation to carry a burden. In fact, if we look at our scripture carefully, God asks us to bring those very burdens to him - for it is in him we find our rest.

We often think our burdens are maybe too insignificant for him to carry - maybe because we think God only cares about the "huge" or "bigger than life" stuff.  I think we under-estimate God's love for us when we limit him to the "big stuff"!  God wants not only the big stuff, but the ordinary, run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff. Why? He wants us free to enter into the grace he has given us, to be enveloped in his presence, and to have arms free to reach out to others.  When they are preoccupied with burdens (regardless of how small they may be), there is no room to reach out to lift a brother up who has fallen or to bring close one who just needs to be held for a little while.  These are better uses for our hands rather than holding onto what he clearly wants us to let go of in the first place!

Burden bearing is a matter of choice - we choose to keep close those things we cannot really fix in our own ability, or to give them to the one who wants us to find perfect peace and absolute rest. The choice is often overlooked - yet it is this very choice which determines how "massive" the burden has to get before we are going to admit we weren't designed to carry it in the first place. I speak from experience here, my friends, often carrying things God asks me to lay down. The fatigue of carrying things beyond my capacity to "fix" or my capacity of "bearing up under" is overwhelming. When we finally admit we have allowed burdens to be placed upon us which are beyond our bearing - we take the first step in unloading the burden!

We don't want to start the year bearing up under a load of guilt - so admit it and let it go.  We don't want to bear up under a load of anxiety over things we don't hold the keys to control - so ready or not God, here it comes!  We don't want to bear up under anything put there by another - so put it down and be free of the stress of carrying it. Christ beckons us to choose better this year!  Just sayin!