The weather right now is so cold. The temperatures are well below what we normally have in the south…six degree nights are not something we deal with here. The cold is harsh…unforgiving…it can take the breath. It can be biting to the fingers.
It can make daily life difficult. Things as simple as having water to drink or a warm place to sleep. Especially if you are homeless. It touches every part of your reality if you are homeless.
The weather reminds me of other things which can be biting…reality…truth…facing it all….it can crush the spirit just as the weather crushes the ease of the day’s chores…reality of problems can leave me breathless.
Daily life….one foot in front of the other…. just as in the harsh, cold weather…when the burdens of life are on your shoulders…it makes that journey so difficult. You always carry a painful burden on your shoulders.
When the problems you see around you…the needs of others….when they burden you…you carry a pack on your shoulders that is heavy and painful. You can feel helpless to solve problems…thus the pain never quite leaves you…just as it never leaves those who are daily experiencing the problems.
Jesus had something to say about these burdens.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. Matthew 11:28-30 New American Bible
Those burdens…they were never meant to remain with us. Jesus has a burden for us…but He promises it is light. The burden He has for us…it will bring us rest. His yoke…that guiding hand He has for us which will lead us to doing His will…is easy. So I ask myself…if this is what Jesus said…why am I feeling this internal angst? Why is there pain within? Why do I continue to feel those burdens? Why do the burdens of not only myself but others leave me with so much daily pain?
My journey always appears so difficult….
Places that are so hard and cold along the road I travel…..
Places along the road which must be crossed….and they seem impossible.
But Jesus said it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Jesus said I wasn’t supposed to feel so heavy. You weren’t supposed to feel so heavy. So why do we?
Could it be our expectations?
When I moved here I was so happy. We had a beautiful place and I loved watching the wildlife. We didn’t own a nice car. We didn’t own a nice home. We didn’t have much money. We didn’t care. I was enjoying the wildlife and considering myself every bit equal with others and just having a good time. Then, people began to “teach” me. The ABSOLUTE MUST was to desire, strive for and obtain those nice things…and if that didn’t happen…your value was lower than for those who had those things. That was the beginning of years of being beat down by that message. Depressed by that message. Finally…angered by that message. When I read what Jesus said…none of that came out of His mouth. He really didn’t care about things. He cared about meeting needs. He certainly didn’t mind if people had nice things…but He was so much more concerned about where they were within…where they were spiritually…whether or not they gave to those who had real needs. A nicer car is not a need. A car may be a need. A nicer coat is not a need. A coat is a need. See where this is going? Those “learned expectations” made me unhappy. They burdened me.
Could it be a refusal to trust?
One of the principles the church teaches is to offer up our worries and pains and sorrows to the Lord. Until this past year I didn’t try to really practice this. I hate to admit that….but it’s true. Now…I lived in His grace for a number of years. I lived in trust of HIs provision. But to offer up was different. To offer those things up means something different for different people, depending on what they understand. Some see it as simply putting those things at the foot of the Cross…trusting that He knows best. Others go a step further, believing scripture teaches we join our sorrows with His…as St. Paul suggested. I chose…based on where I was…to offer them up…placing them at the foot of the Cross…trusting Him to do what He desired with them. It is a practice I am trying to adopt regularly this year. It is a surrender.
The truth is most of us feel these things. Most of us feel worry. We are worried about health, home, family, friends, needs of the community. Some of our worries seem noble. In Matthew 6:27 Jesus said Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span” He literally commands us not to worry.
A few weeks ago as services in a local fellowship began the pastor asked if we had been worrying over the year or if we had rejoiced in the Lord and in knowing Him through the year. He said, if we had not rejoiced in knowing Him through the year, but had given ourselves to worry we needed to repent. He asked us to stop and repent at that moment. It really spoke to the importance of focusing on the Lord Jesus and gaining our value and our joy from Him instead of all these things we don’t have or the worries of life we do or don’t experience.
This year the idea of surrender has been cemented. It was warmed up to for years….yes…a slow warm up…but this year it is the call of the year. If you are as tired of burdens as I am I invite you to join me. Surrender moment by moment…day by day…thing by thing. Surrender and do not fear. Give up these daily pursuits for material things and look to Heaven…where every treasure we have will last forever. We may have to remind ourselves of this daily. Be ready to. I am convinced at least half of the worry and anxiety we feel could be removed from our lives if we gained eternal perspective in our daily pursuits. Are you willing to join me? I could use some companions on this journey this year. I’ll be looking for you along the road!