Posts Tagged ‘burdens’

tearsLike so many things in life, we are part of a circle. As we help bear the burdens of others, God bears ours (and that of the others we took upon ourselves). When a friend’s heart is heavy or circumstances pouring over them, we have a responsibility to help. Our fear is that we will be crushed or infected. But God’s promise is sure:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. [Galatians 6:2, NIV] Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. [Psalm 68:19, NIV]

I had the opportunity this week to meet someone new and to hear her story, filled with disapmourn with those who mournpointment and sorrow. She needed to talk. She needed someone to listen. She need to offload. My cost was only time and my faith that God would ultimately carry the most of it. We are all so similar. Human pain and loss is universal. It’s easier to see it in others than to walk it. But time does bring some reprieve and the touch of others helping us hold up our heads, our hearts, our souls.

Another brother in my extended community of faith has passed, a contemporary with my own husband. I cannot reach out physically to his wife who has moved away, but I do lift her and her family up in prayer. This lifting is a conscious carrying that is just as important as listening or talking to someone in person. Prayer is vital to burden bearing. Even though she may not know about it, God is faithful. And another, closer to me, will feel the call to hold her close, to wipe her tears, to sit and listen, to laugh when she laughs and to weep when she weeps. [Romans 12:15] It is the way of faith.

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Not as the world gives power, but as God gives power, what do I get? More paradox. We are brought up in a world of Donald Trumps where power means control, self-aggrandizement, immediacy, and ambition. But Christ modeled something else.

Ephesians 3:20, 4:2
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, . . . Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

It’s not as though Jesus couldn’t do dynamic things. He had enough power to do it all. Instead, much of that power was channeled toward a more difficult task: humility and gentleness, patience and loving others unconditionally (with forgiveness–a mark of unconditional love).

We tend to be wired for self-protection. We say, “If I don’t take care of myself, who will?” or “I don’t want to become a door mat” or “How long must I wait?” We keep putting ourselves in the center of our universe.

When it took two years to adopt our daughter, I kept pounding on God’s door asking why it was taking so long and how unfair it was and what had we done wrong? Finally, through a friend, I heard these words: “What makes you think this delay is about you?”

To practice the acts of humility and patience and truly loving, is “other” oriented. It’s passing power to them. It’s letting the overflowing water get others wet. Power is energy and cannot be efficiently constrained. But how amazing, that this energy is passed along through release and not the exertion of force.

Help me get this today. Help me practice opening my hands and heart, releasing the power of the Holy Spirit.

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The Rabbi’s yoke is the set of interpretations of the law that a rabbi has and passes to his students. Paul was zealous because his teacher taught him to be. How many of us are still operating out of ingrained lessons and prejudices?

Acts 22:3b
“…Under Gamaliel I [Paul] was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you [the crowd in Jerusalem] are today.”

My mother, an immigrant, was fervent about equal rights. When we first arrived in this country (1951), we lived in North Carolina. My father, already over 60, was forced to carry heavy railroad ties alone because the supervisor assumed he wouldn’t want to work with a negro [that’s the polite term]. We moved to Indianapolis within the year. There we lived in the inner city where we experienced a different form of prejudice against us because we were “foreigners.” In the end, although our family was poor and fiscally conservative, we remained socially liberal.

But others are taught from an early age to distrust, fear and even hate. Children are brainwashed to believe the worst and they quickly mouth the name-calling and rants they hear in the home. This learned hatred is particularly vitriolic in the case of skin color, sexuality, and religious practices. In some middle eastern countries, this yoke (set of beliefs) has escalated to the point of sacrificial suicide to kill and destroy “infidels.”

In order to take on a new yoke, one must take off the old one. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” [Matthew 6:24a]

It is so difficult to let go of something we have believed our whole lives. Instead, the old yoke is perpetuated from one generation to another. We teach our children what we were taught, either directly or indirectly.

But Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. [Matthew 11:30] And yet, some people still try to make the yoke of Jesus heavy and burdensome. They manipulate His yoke to be more like the yoke they have known before.

Jesus’s yoke is like no other yoke. There is freedom. There is love. There is a lightness of being. There is trust. There is hope. There is Spirit.

Paul was thrown to the ground and blinded in order to get his attention. What about us? What must God do to reveal the yoke of Jesus to us? I think I am still trying to wear more than one yoke. Show me, O God, the yokes of my past that weigh me down.

I only want to carry one yoke: the yoke of Christ Jesus.

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Matthew 11:28-30
“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am reading a fascinating book called Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. I have always been interested in language and the meaning/interpretation of words. So often, we take the most common words for granted. This kind of questioning started back in my theatre days when we were challenged to investigate, “what does this phrase or word really mean?” The Bible is full of words that are loaded: love, grace, sin, hope, faith, truth… that’s just a few for starters!

Anyway, Rob Bell speaks of this meaning and interpretation of words as one of the responsibilities of a Rabbi. And those disciples who studied under a rabbi understood that he was the one, after much study and prayer, who would make the final determination/interpretation. For instance, if the law said that no work could be done on the Sabbath, it was the Rabbi who interpreted what “work” might mean. Different Rabbis had different interpretations. One might say that walking 3 miles was permissible but walking more was work. While another might say 2 miles, etc. As a result, people would choose or align themselves with a rabbi whose set of interpretations they would follow. This set of interpretations was called the Rabbi’s Yoke!

Of course, you can see where I’m going here: Jesus, the Rabbi, brought a new yoke to the people. He even announced it and invited others to follow because His yoke was easy! This is the way of Jesus even today.

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