Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Adjusting under the weight

Burden:  That which is born with difficulty or obligation; to load so heavily as to trouble the one who carries the weight.   We all carry some type of burden - but some of us carry a load too great for us to bear and are crumbling under the weight of that burden.  When I say we all carry some type of burden, I refer to the "burdens" we carry each day such as getting the kids to school on time, being productive at work, and ensuring their are clean underwear in the drawer each week.  These are "minor" burdens compared to the weight of sin, depression, anxiety, and the like.  They are eventually "relieved" by dropping the kids at the doorstep of the school, or completing that task you were given. There is an end point we can see.  The other burdens I speak of are those without an end point - or at least it seems that way.  Now, I know your laundry can pile up and up, making it look like there is no end to the burden, but trust me - wash long enough and fold for a few hours - it will come to an end!  These "temporary" burdens all have something in common - they come back time and time again, but they are kind of "easily unloaded" just by reaching that "end point".  The burden of sin has no end point within our own effort - there is no lightening of the load we bear just because we do some magical incantation or create an illusion in our minds of things being different.  The burden of sin remains until one is unburdened from its weight - and that unburdening is not possible with someone to help us "unload" it.

“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ERV)

To unburden from the load of sin, one must first come to the realization they are carrying a load they don't want to carry any longer.  It isn't until we realize the weight of the burden we have been carrying that we begin to chafe under the weight of it.  Sure it fatigues us, but we don't really think much about it because we haven't really come to the place of recognizing we are actually carrying that weight.  Sin has a way of duping us into carrying the weight of it a lot longer than we might imagine.  There is this little thing called "pride" which often gets in the way of us admitting we don't want to carry the weight of sin's burden any longer - so we just "bear up" under the weight of it, allowing it to heap on more weight called "guilt" until we can barely move because of the tremendous "burden" we are carrying.  At the point we recognize we want to be out from under the weight of the sin and guilt, we are right in the place we need to be in order to have that weight removed.

Any time we get heaps and heaps of guilt which we are carrying around with us, we are carrying a burden too great for us to bear.  Whenever you carry a weight too great for you to bear in a physical sense, your body does not do well with that weight.  It wears out your knees, puts strain upon your back, pulls at your muscles, and eventually it slows you down.  Lose even some of the burden and you will begin to sense a new "lightness" in your step, muscles will heal, and you will begin to see yourself moving at a renewed pace.  The same is true of the unloading of a spiritual burden - there is a lightness which comes, returning a sense of vigor and vitality to our walk again.  One of the unrealized burden multipliers which guilt produces is that of a lack of rest.  This is probably why Jesus says we come to him to be "unburdened" from our load of sin and then he gives us rest in return.  Guilt removed will bring a peace to our souls and peace in turn brings about rest and renewal.

As Jesus points out, there is but one place of unburdening - it is at his feet.  We come to him and he begins the work of removing the load we weren't meant to bear - the load we have been trying to bear up under without relief and with continued strain.  It isn't our work which unburdens us - it is his.  It is like us taking a pack mule into a town, then seeing the townsman unload all the weight heaped upon the back of that pack mule.  We navigated it safely to the destination, but another does the work of setting the mule free from its load. We come to Jesus - he does the work of unloading the sin and guilt we have been traveling with for a long, long time.  If you have ever taken a backpacking trip, you might have sense something which I think the pack mule actually senses at that moment when the last burden is removed from his back.  

On that backpacking trip, as we lower our backpack to the ground, allowing our bodies to adjust to the lack of extra weight which have been on it for the journey to our destination, we almost feel a sense of euphoria and lightness which makes us a little "off-balance" for a moment or two.  Why?  We made adjustments in order to carry the weight.  It is like that with sin and guilt - we are constantly making adjustments in order to carry even more of it!  We heap it on and on, making this adjustment and that, allowing our lives to take on the weight.  In the end, we forget what it was like to walk without the burden. When we are finally without the weight - we need to make some adjustments again in order to learn to walk without that weight!  Jesus says we need to accept his teaching and learn from him - this is how we adjust to being without the weight of sin and guilt in our lives.  It is also how we adjust to not taking up that burden again!  Just sayin!