Continuing as a beast of burden

A few weeks ago I asked the following questions:

How burdened should our lives be as those who have answered Jesus’ call:

“Come to me, all 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

What truths can we draw on, and what tools can we use to help us day by day to be lightly and rightly burdened?

Let’s start with help from Serving without sinking by John Hindley.

Points to remember:

Jesus serves us. We are not to measure ourselves by our service of him and our service of him should not get in the way of our love for him.

Great – good stuff. But… well… although it definitely feels as though it should help – I can’t quite put my finger on how!

I can tell you how it DOESN’T help. Our lists don’t just miraculously shrink. It isn’t like the ‘Elves and the Shoemaker’ – we wake up and “Hooray!”our work has been done for us.

But I really do believe that it is a truth relevant to my problem. I just need to unwrap my burdens to apply the truth to the real burden within the presenting burden.

Imagine that every job, task, responsibility, relationship etc is an individual burden.

I’m imagining hessian sacks slung over my shoulder, but perhaps Cath Kidson bags would be cheerier, and given what I about to say more fitting!

We carry these burdens – some are quickly dealt with, others are lifelong, but there’s always something to pick up and carry. Now imagine that the problem is NOT these burdens. These burdens are in fact the works prepared in advance for us to do, and the people given to us to love and serve. These burdens are actually God’s gift to us, along with the help and strength we need to carry them to his glory. These burdens make us more like Jesus and involve us in Christ’s glorious cause! These burdens are beautiful.

The problem is that we can’t seem to stop ourselves from adding a few extra bricks to each sack!

Can you spot any of these extra weights hiding amongst your godly burdens?

  • The brick of measuring yourself by your service of God.
  • The rock of trying to be good enough for God
  • The boulder of impressing other people
  • Countless handfuls of gravel as we try to belong
  • The weight of thinking that our service is needed by God.
  • Multiple additions to our actual responsibilities as we unwisely or willfully complicate and embellish the core job with ‘must haves’ and ‘must dos’ of our own or society’s dictating

Of course these added weights are well camouflaged. They often look so godly, all part of the original God-given burden, when in fact they are imposters. Dead weights distorting our view of God and our view of life following him. Expose them and chuck them out!

While we sift through our burdens, we also need to keep our eye on another tendency I have spotted. Not only do we add these weights, we then insist on struggling on on our own. We starve ourselves of God’s word, we ignore his precious promises.

After all – we have so much to do, and surely he needs us to press on inch by inch under these self-imposed burdens. What will he do if we stop?

What will he do? He will delight in our obedience to him as we sit and rest and feed on him. The weight of the world is not on our shoulders – it is on his. Which, considering that “the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:17) is a very comforting and humbling thought.

I fantasise about being burden-less. I crave those times that I carve out when the burdens are left at the door. I crash and then I carry and then I crash.

If only I could extract the weight from the burdens. If only I could rely on the weight bearing buoyancy of God’s grace and might and love.

Dear Lord, you don’t want me to be bowed down by spirit breaking burdens. Lord help me to see where I am rightly taking up my cross and following a suffering saviour, and where I am trying to be the saviour. Help me to discern where I am accepting the service you have blessed me with and where I am rejecting your service of me. Help me to bear the weight you have given me to bear and to let the rest sink to the bottom of the sea of your grace. Amen.

It is hard to extract the false weights though isn’t it?

How can we view our responsibilities rightly, while also recognising that the weight of them is not ours to bear. I can feel the weight lifting – nothing depends on me – God is in control and yet.. and yet it really seems to. If it is my job to make my children’s packed lunch today – in what sense does that not depend on me?

My time is up, but my thoughts are not – more to follow…….


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