December 11, 2008

Trading burdens

Imagine a man carrying a load of freight on his back. It is heavy. It is all he can do to carry it. Staggering under the load, he sees Jesus calling to him, saying, “Come and I will give you rest.”

The man is so tired. He stumbles toward Jesus and says, “Here I am. Where is this rest that you offer?”

Jesus says, “The rest is yours, but first we must trade burdens. I will take yours, but you must take mine.”

The man hesitates. He knows something about Jesus. Some people hated Him. Would that be His burden? He worked day after day helping and healing people. Would that be it? Jesus also was put to death unfairly. Would he have to carry a load like that? He looked up at Jesus and asked what this burden would be.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The man could not see the burden but he heard and knew the words that Jesus spoke. The first word Jesus used for a burden (heavy laden) was the one that he carried, the one of sin, guilt, shame, regret, and deep sorrow. He wanted to give it to Jesus.

The second word was a slightly different word. Too bad it is translated burden in most of our English Bibles, because it is not the same word nor the heavy load associated with that word. When he heard the second word, the man joyfully let Jesus take the load from him, and in exchange, he received the bill of lading, the invoice!

When Jesus came into my life, He took my burden of sin and guilt too. Since then, He keeps finding more stuff that I needlessly carry and makes the same offer. Will I learn from Him, walk with Him, be yoked with Him? Or will I hang on to the stuff that weighs me down?

It seems like a no-brainer, yet the same questions are thrown at me. I start wondering about the trade. Will He give me something that is worse and harder to deal with than the weight I carry? Will being yoked with Him be confining instead of giving freedom? Will He take me places that I don’t want to go? Or give me tasks that I don’t want to do?

Even though these are suggestions and lies from my spiritual enemy, they come with subtle deception and often when I’m discouraged under the weight. This enemy knows how to cause doubt, but fortunately, Jesus knows how to counter it. For one thing, He asks great questions too. “Have I ever lied to you?” “Have I ever broken a promise?” “Do you trust Me?”

He also gives me a hunger for His Word and to just keep reading. No matter what I am carrying, eventually I read those load-lifting passages that invite me into the rest that He alone can give.

Such is the Christian life. Last week I carried a load; this week I’m rejoicing because He put me in charge of the invoice.

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