This is a phrase my brothers used to throw at me when I was (in their eyes) freaking out about something, over-reacting, taking something too seriously…. Of course it was guaranteed to turn the dial on my stress levels up a thousand! Possibly, at times, the effect they were looking for.
I do take things seriously, I am an intense person. I realise my crazy lists of things that burden me might have been annoyingly personal, or just irrelevant to any feeling you have ever had. You might want to scream at me – “Take it down a thousand!”.
And, to a certain extent, fair enough, fair cop gov. A deep breath and applying some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might well be helpful. But I really do think that the theological issues raised by my crazy intense brain and its excessive lists are worth exploring.
The thing is I know my burdens! I don’t know yours. I know the things that ‘stick’ to me as I walk down the corridor of my house, or through town, or watch a TV programme – and I’m not talking about sticky sweet wrappers! I mean the stain on the carpet that needs another dose of Vanish, or the stray Christmas decoration that needs to be put away. The over-full coat pegs that just need me to get rid of the ones that have got too small. The thought that floats in as I go down the stairs – “you never thanked that person”. The thing that needs to be purchased before the service on Sunday if you’re going to do that illustration or game. Then there’s the thing you originally went upstairs for that you have forgotten, but you know there was something! And of course that whole walk up and down the stairs was actually an interruption from what you are meant to be focussing on – whether it is preparing a bible study or the evening meal. A TV programme can prompt a stream of thoughts on parenting, or give an idea about a talk illustration, or just remind you of something you haven’t done.
Is it just me? I seem to walk through life with an ever growing fog of potential burdens surrounding me until I resemble Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-Pen. An ever growing collection of burden-burs sticking to me in order to travel and disperse their seeds.
Your burs might look very different to mine, but the challenges they pose to our walks with God are perhaps not so different. So below is a compilation of thoughts about burdens from the last few months’ worth of posts – hope it’s helpful.
- Don’t let them block your view of eternity.
- Instead: Let your view of eternity equip you to press on cheerfully, you are gifted with things to do, not burdened.
- Don’t forget that you are not in full possession of the facts and don’t try to be.
- Instead: Praise God that he is God and submit to what you do know of him and of what he wants you to do.
- Don’t save your God-perspective thinking for the BIG burdens.
- Instead: Keep thinking BIG about the little things. It seems like more work, but it is vital in the road to lightness.
- Don’t serve idols, and don’t neglect to obey God
- Instead: Operate wisely and prayerfully in the space of freedom in between.
- Don’t love the idols of control and an empty list, no-one demanding anything of you.
- Instead: Ask God for more love for his glory, and his people.
- Don’t see every task as a burden – God’s got things covered.
- Instead: Do the jobs you can do extravagantly and ditch the burden.
- Don’t be overwhelmed.
- Instead: Lament and cry out to God about what is lament-worthy and receive his help to press on cheerfully with the rest.
- Don’t add burdens to God’s good gifts to us.
- Instead: Remember what he is doing and work hard in the buoyancy of his grace, the low gravity atmosphere of a child ‘helping’ their Father.
- Don’t see this list as a burden!
- Instead: PRAY!
Dear Father, may my life be a testimony to the fact that your yoke is easy and your burden light. May I work hard in your service, may I strive to grow in holiness, may I make every effort you call me to make, and may I do it all joyfully declaring that it is well with my soul. In the name of the one who has done all that was necessary to make that so, your precious Son, Amen.