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Now there’s no doubt that each of us has some carrying to do. But God isn’t interested in turning us into pack mules. Too many of us are loaded down. When we’re this loaded down, we can’t get up to see the good things that the Lord is trying to give us.
Don’t let yourself get weighed down. Scripture says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” We’re supposed to be able walk and then run and even fly. If you’re carrying more than your share then all you’re doing is crawling.
Living with heavy loads is something that many people think of as being almost inevitable. But nothing is inevitable in life when it comes to the Lord. New things are happening every moment.
We don’t always know how we get into this stuff so deep. We put one stress on top of one worry on top of one failure on top of another fear on top of one doubt on top of another pain. And we don’t separate them out.
We lose count and forget where one ends and another begins. We toss them around like a salad, and they all start to get confused inside our heads and hearts. It’s no wonder we have such a tough time shaking out what’s real and what’s not, what’s ours and what’s not.
Stop holding on to all of these. Most of them are not yours anyway, more than likely. And all of them need the Lord’s attention, not your obsession.
Numbers 11 is the story of the Israelites complaining in the desert. They had already complained enough so that the Lord had given them manna. But at this point, manna isn’t enough. They want meat, and so they start to grumble and get angry and complain again.
Moses is fed up and tells the Lord he’s done. He’s had enough. He asks God why are all these people and their burden laid at his feet? And then in one of the most amazing question/interrogation sessions ever put down on papyrus, Moses asks, “Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom….’”
Of course the answer is no.
Moses lays down the truth to the Lord in verse 14 and admits the simple fact, “I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me.”
That’s not only for Moses to say. God wishes you would say that sometimes. The Lord wants you to ask for help. You need to when you’re being buried. The Spirit will try to get you to say it, but you’ve got to be the one who declares it.
Your child’s wrong attitude is too much, “God, I need your help.” We don’t have enough money to continue in our home, “O Lord, I don’t think I can handle moving.” Your spouse’s illness has been going on for too long, “please, God, give me strength.”
The Bible says God doesn’t give us more than we can handle but it never meant that you had to handle all on your own.
There’s no one who’s not going to be tested by life because being tested and having to carry things is how we grow in the spirit and grow in character. That comes from God.
When we enter that time of testing, if it’s from the Lord, there’s going to be a way out.
I’m a recycler, including our plastic Publix shopping bags. All these brown Publix bags tend to pile up in the garage, so I stuff lots of them in a larger bag and put that against the wall until I’m ready to drive them over to Publix. I usually end up with dozens and dozens of public bags stuffed to bulging in three or four large bags, all of them stuff into my trunk.
Of course, the container at Publix for recycling their bags is another bag. There have been times when I’ve stuff that bag with so many of my bags that I couldn’t close the door completely.
I guess it’s so easy for me to feel like a troublemaker. I usually walk away with my hands behind my back, looking up in the sky, whistling very innocently, like I’ve just done something I shouldn’t have done.
We stuff ourselves with trouble. We hoard the burden and forego the blessing. We take on not just our own issues but we take on other people’s problems. We go from putting our troubles in a big bag to putting all of them in another container to overflowing, and then try to close all that behind us, and walk away like nothing’s wrong.
Stop hoarding all the messes around you. Give them away. Return them to their owners. We can’t do our bucket list because we’ve filled it with problems.
You’ve got to realize enough’s enough. That saggy, burned out feeling ain’t the work of the Lord. It’s your work, and it isn’t blessing you.
Nobody said you we’re superman or superwoman. If that’s what you heard then they were teasing you or you were wrong. You’re enough as you are, with your weaknesses and limitations and imperfections.
God can’t get through to you if you’re still posing as perfect and almighty and unconquerable.
Jesus had no illusions about you and me. He named it as it is: We’re weary and carrying heavy burdens—we could use some rest.
I know someone who has such a love for her son. She would do anything for him. She thought this is what love meant—that you would do anything for another person. You would sacrifice yourself for him or her, for that matter.
And so she did. And he took all that love and gave his problems to her. She carried him like a ton of weight around for years and years.
It wasn’t until two things happened that she was able to stop carrying what wasn’t hers. She realized she wasn’t strong enough to carry him any longer. And, she realized she was hurting him.
It is tempting to swoop in and try to pluck this person out of the muck and take on their pain, sadness, confusion. But to take on more than what is ours is to paralyze ourselves.
Love can mean to sacrifice ourselves, but only if it actually saves the other person. Sacrifice that continues to injure is misplaced burden carrying.
I’m sure you’ve got a burden, but it’s yours, rightfully so. Help with someone else’s burden but don’t pick up their load. They can’t get stronger if they’re not doing their own lifting.
You know, when we fly in an airplane with children, the flight attendant’s message is always in case of an emergency and oxygen is needed, adults need to first fix their own oxygen needs first and then they can reach over to help their children.
I like what an author wrote, “All my life I’d felt like a lake. A lake where everything was contained, forever. All my experiences, all the different people I’d been, everything I’d had, everything I’d lost…I carried them around with me, all the time”
God’s love for you wants to flow through you, but if we’re a lake filled to the brim with disappointment, anger, frustration, lack of forgiveness, pain, sadness, confusion, doubt, then we can’t get any fresh water in, and nothing can flow out.
Break the logjam with prayer. Let go of your load. Hand it over to the Lord.
We say God is infinite in power, and by power we mean God is infinite in doing power, in giving power, in creating power. God makes things and does things with this infinite power.
What we don’t understand or think about often enough is God’s infinite power also includes power as receiving, taking in, accepting. Any of your burden you want to give away, God will take. Any of the heavy load you’re carrying that’s bringing you down, God will receive.
For many people, the idea of talking about what’s weighing them down or admitting that you’re struggling can feel like giving up. “I can do it myself” is our motto. We make resolutions, then break them, then make and break them all over again. Our to-do lists get longer. Illness comes and we get yet further behind. We lose our jobs; we worry and feel the burden is more than we can bear.
People ask if they can do anything to help us, and we say, “Thank you, but it’s all right. I can handle it. I don’t need any help.”
Of course, men are much less likely than women to talk about their problems as a rule. This isn’t good for men.
The truth is often we don’t just censor what we say, we censor what we think. Most of the time we won’t even admit to ourselves we’re feeling overwhelmed, lost or stressed. As a result, we keep things ‘bottled up’ and they stay on our mind, elevating our heart rate and blood pressure in the process.
The lake keeps building up higher behind the dam.
Prayer is good but so is journaling. Writing down your problems in some kind of journal is very effective. In one study it was found that people who had lost their jobs were actually more likely to be find employment sooner if they wrote down their feelings. The reason presumably is that they became more positive and thus performed better in subsequent interviews and opened themselves up for more opportunities.
In another study, it was found that writing about stressful events could help individuals see the positive, ‘silver linings’ of those situations.
This year, as tools for spiritual growth I have set for the church a series of twelve 30-day challenges. January’s challenge is journaling.
The good news is that there is no ‘right way’ to journal. The whole point is that you can write about whatever it is that’s on your mind and
express your feelings. Write down what you’re upset about. Also write about what you’re grateful for. Affirm your goodness. List your mistakes. Find a path to make amends with those you’ve hurt and forgive those who’ve hurt you. Just get it out.
One other tip is to write somewhere private and to destroy what you’ve written afterward. Even if you’re not worried about someone finding your writing, destroying the evidence will encourage you to be much more honest and open with yourself which is the objective.
Unstuff yourself, open up the lake, lighten your burdens. Give to God of infinite power and strength your load of troubles and difficulties. Take your rest, so that you can walk and not faith, run without wearying, and fly on the wings of God’s blessings.
Can the church say Amen?