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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Don't be a pack mule

Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us.  (Galatians 6:2 VOICE)
What burden do you have that I might shoulder on your behalf today? If someone were to ask you that question, could you really answer it honestly? Or would you be like most of the majority of believers and simply resign yourself to having to carry that burden yourself? For some strange reason, we have the hardest time allowing another to step into our "mess" of a life and take any of our burden from us. It may be that we carry the burden simply because we think if we admit it to anyone else they will judge us or think it is ridiculous for us to be shouldering it at all. It is as though we "judge" our burden by the burdens we see others carrying and see ours as just not as "big" or "serious" as those they carry, so we just shoulder it alone. You know what? No burden is ever as heavy as the one we are carrying right now, regardless of the size!
Mom is nearly 98 now and I have pretty lightweight dishes compared to my daughter's. I use Corning Corelle dishes and she uses stone wear type. Carry my daughter's across the room and you know you have carried it! To mom, it doesn't matter - both are heavy! Her strength to carry even the slightest of burdens at her age is much less than mine, and mine is much less than my daughter's! Why? The effects of aging have placed limitations - not the size of the burden, just the fact of being physically able to do so. It isn't the size of our burden, or the "importance" of it in the eyes of others, it is the fact we are not to shoulder it alone! It may be we are not emotionally as strong as we would want to be in order to shoulder it well. It could be that we aren't able to balance this burden with the weight of another we are about to have placed upon us in short order. Regardless, we need to share the burdens we have with others. The effects of life's events place burdens upon us in measures we might not be able to handle - we need the help of another to help us out from under them.
When Paul pens these words of instruction to us believers, he isn't just giving a mere suggestion - it is an imperative to carry one another's burdens. Why? The burden we carry is what is causing us to stumble and fall - the weight of it is too much for us alone. We need a chance to heal, be restored, and come out stronger - something we cannot do as long as we are straining to carry that burden all by ourselves. These instructions come right after he says: "My spiritual brothers and sisters (that means all of us believers who share the same faith and rely upon the same grace to redeem us from our sins), if one of our faithful (note he uses the word "our" faithful - because we belong to each other in this family of faith - we have an obligation to look out for each other) has fallen into a trap and is snared by sin, (what we don't avoid can become the thing that trips us up the easiest and when carrying a burden it is easier to not see the trap) don't stand idle and watch his demise. Gently restore him, being careful not to step into your own snare."
Yes, admitting we have a burden is hard. Yes, it can be a little embarrassing at times. Yes, it can even mean we have to let another know we aren't as "perfect" as they might think we are. But...to shoulder it alone is to guarantee we won't be as able to avoid the next snare in our path, or improve our chances of carrying even more burden upon the present one we are so reluctant to share with anyone right now.  There is no easy way to let another share our burden, but in honest confession of our need it is possible we might just find out that there are others who have already shouldered that burden in their own life and been able to let it go, as well!  Just sayin!