This evening, I was sitting back and thinking, listening to music as I tried to clear my thoughts to listen to any kind of encouragement or challenge from the Spirit to write and share. I had gotten myself busy and distracted the past few weeks and wanted to write something meaningful, to make up for lost time. As I did, I felt a warmth, a heat on my middle back. I felt like there were many people, myself included, who found themselves carrying burdens. Carrying unwarranted, unnecessary fear about the future. Concern about promises from God that seem, to our human eyes, unfulfilled or even late. Then, of course, the burden of frustration and guilt for thinking that way, knowing about God’s perfect timing and His command not to worry.
I myself feel the urge to take hold of my life and worry-wort about it. But of course, I know better. I know that I can shake that off, laugh about how silly it is, all the while taking seriously God’s grace and providence that strengthens me every day. That urge is not in any way stronger than me — even if I let it be, more times than I should.
I know that is human to feel this way; David poured out his anxieties and fears and gave them up to God, praying that they be searched out and purged by the Holy Spirit. He was actually facing life-threatening trauma, some of it of his own making. But even in that, David knew of the destructive and just plain burdensome weight of worry.
Maybe you have a habit of grabbing every bag and pack and package and think, “Oh I shouldn’t carry this…or this…or this…” and you end up, even just for a moment, doing it anyway before you drop it all. Maybe you drop it somewhere convenient in the back of your mind. Maybe you feel like you need to apologize for feeling uneasy or lacking rest? Maybe you feel tense and annoyed with yourself and others.
Here is some advice that I myself have been pushed to receive, with tough love and sincere grace: stop that. There’s no shame in telling God “I brought all this junk back, help me get rid of it!” because He’ll say “What junk? I threw all that in a chest, wrapped in chains and let it sink into the depths of the deepest ocean, I don’t even remember where. Those are only echoes of something that isn’t yours.” We can be stubborn and say “But I feel…!” but we know the truth about our burdens.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
Jesus gives us a burden that is not worrisome, but builds character and trust in His rest.
His yoke does not cause pain, it corrects injuries and brings lasting relief.
Jesus’ burden joyfully pulls us to bring His kingdom with us wherever we go, without coercion or weight.
His yoke creates good posture, and gives us the strength to straighten up in response to evil and injustice.
His burden does not make for a heavy backpack, it doesn’t fill up closet space — but it should permeate every aspect of your being.
That burden is the only one we should carry, because it is the most creativity-boosting, productivity ensuring, sleep-bettering, life-giving, hope-restoring thing in the world. I want to wake up delighted to pick it up every day, and then to rest under its ease and comfort as I sleep. It is, however, my choice. The painful burdens of life were carried up a hill, born by one person, and left to rot on bloodied wood, gone forever.
Why should we pick them back up? We have a much better, more worthy burden to bear together. Choose to meditate on the goodness of God and the neon signs of grace in your life. Choose to be present, to just…relax. Block news channels, get rid of Twitter. Trust that God hears Your prayers, that His promises are assured, and that He will redeem everything. Take the free gift that Jesus gives with His arms wide and His eyes full of light.
Throw away those echoes, you have something that is actually worth carrying.