I’m fortunate to have a few special women with which to run on a regular basis, and during these brisk morning jaunts, we have shared everything from funny childhood stories to crazy parenting mishaps to prayer requests, and everything in between. I covet this time because for a brief moment, among the chaos of the week, we can escape to the trail and just ‘be’. One running partner, my girlfriend Christine, is a wonderful storyteller and role model. She has four boys and I have two. (Enough said, right?) Regardless of what I am dealing with – be it with the boys, work, or anything else – in wonderful Christine fashion, she will share stories and wisdom that I just soak up. It’s truly a blessing. I know it is a blessing because her stories encourage, impart wisdom, and sometimes just plain old make me belly laugh.
When recently sharing this month’s word with her, and the several angles I was considering taking with it, I should have known she’d be ready to impart an awesome nugget of wisdom that would flow perfect with what God was leading me to share.
This story piggybacked off of a topic we tackle quite often – purging the junk in our respective houses. (Maybe you can relate?) She shared that her husband recently parted with some hefty engineering books that he’d been holding onto since college, and consequently, moving with them from house to house over many years. The family finally encouraged him to depart with them, and upon returning from Half Price Books, he proudly declared, “Made eight dollars selling old books today.” Their oldest son’s immediate response struck me quite profoundly. He responded, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the stress free life that comes with getting rid of crap.” Truth spoken by a wise young man. Who doesn’t love that feeling? Both literally and figuratively. When we lighten our loads, we feel better. She then followed it with a book recommendation, “Traveling Light”, by Max Lucado. I moved it to the top of my reading list.
In a church message some time ago, our pastor shared the analogy of people walking through life slugging backpacks filled with big rocks – the rocks of course being our burdens. Over time, more and more rocks are added. The bag feels heavier and heavier the more it’s filled and the further we travel with it. Now imagine those rocks being lifted out one by one. Ahhh… How awesome when some of those rocks can be off-loaded.
God wants to take our burdens from us. And he reminds us of that several times in the Bible.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
As Erin shared last week, light is powerful. And one tangible way we can offload those rocks to God is by shining light on the various things that are weighing us down. It moves us one step closer to giving those things to God. One overriding theme that keeps my husband and me in check in our marriage is keep everything out in the open and in the light. Never keep a thought, action, frustration, or anything else eating at us in the dark. In the dark, these things can grow like weeds; they grow a life of their own. They’re rocks that turn into boulders. But sometimes the dark can feel easier, and oddly more comfortable. We get used to carrying that big bag. Maybe it turns into security for us. Or even pride. I’ve got this big heavy bag all by myself. I don’t need anyone’s help. Friends, that is a lie. That’s the weed growing in the dark that might just strangle you if you don’t turn the light on. “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” (Matthew 10:26)
The less we try to carry by ourselves, the more freedom we have. Imagine walking through life with a few pebbles in that backpack verses rocks filled to the top. How light. How freeing.
Back to my friend Christine, how awesome is it that they do not need to move those bulky engineering books the next time they pack up and move? How great that they have space on the shelf for things more meaningful!
Consider what is weighing you down. Shine light on it (talk to a friend, spouse, or pastor), pray, and ask God to help you. Your load may feel helplessly heavy right now, but He’s waiting for an invitation and wants to lighten it. Friends, it may feel helplessly heavy because we’re simply not designed to carry these loads alone.
“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.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Join me in saying this prayer today:
“Lord, I know that I can’t carry my burdens alone. I know that is not your perfect plan for me. Please take these burdens and give me rest. Please give me all of the guidance, wisdom, and patience I need to hand this burden over to you and in exchange, I want to receive peace, freedom, and a lighter load. Amen.”