Inkspill No. 13: The Fine Art of Carrying Burdens

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Cares. Caring, care for, careful. Care-full.

I know why people go on vacation. It’s to forget, for a time, the weight of the words above listed. Or at least try to. There is, of course, a positive connotation to the word care: that is, to tend to lovingly, as in “caring” for an ailing family member. One of my friends even has this word as a name, and on her it is beautiful. But what I am speaking of today is the word we use to describe someone who is fading under the weight of life and its concerns. Care, as in careworn. A worry, a care, is a burden of the heart which we package up and carry around with us, and whenever we have a spare moment, whether pausing in a workday or lying awake at night, we take it out and examine it and poke it and prod it, as though by sheer force and frequency of contemplation we might wear the care down to a nubbin or make it go away entirely. But cares cannot be worn down. They wear us down.

I am familiar with this process, having been a champion worrier since early childhood. The many cares I have nursed are mainly failures: things I’ve messed up, or I think I might be messing up, or things I fear I may mess up in the future, should I fail to make a certain choice wisely. Cares are haunting. They eat and eat at the soul, and though we continue to pile the burdens on our backs as if there is no tomorrow, we eventually find that there is one. Read my lips: there is a limit to how much you can take. If you continue to weigh yourself down with care, there is always a breaking point. Something will give. And it won’t be pretty.

The answer? “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). Now, how many of our cares does this command us to dispose of? ALL. All of them.

I understand how daunting this seems: I once had worrying down to an art form, as alluded to in the title of this post, and the pile of cares strapped to my shoulders was as overgrown as a tree of briars. I had totally lost track of where one ended and the next began. I’d go over the same tired, worried thoughts over and over again. My worries were part of my identity; I couldn’t have a pleasant thought without an apprehensive one following just behind it. So to cast this hideous growth entirely into God’s hands was like ripping off a part of myself and throwing it away, with no guarantee that there’d be anything to stop the bleeding. If I do not cling to these issues of life, then who will?

If you could convince yourself to make the choice, take the plunge, and refuse to think careworn thoughts, then you will find, as I did, that someone will step in the gap for you. An Artist. One whose art is not only to carry burdens, but to make them disappear.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We’ve got to come to Jesus. The moment we begin to feel a weight settling in our hearts, we’ve got to take it to Him, pray about it, trust Him to take care of it. Nothing ever gets accomplished without faith, and worrying is not faith. You cannot carry your own burdens, and attempting to accomplishes nothing. Your problems are HIS problems. He cares about everything you care about. Faith connects you to His power, and He will solve your problems. You are a servant of Jesus Christ, and you can always trust a good master to take care of His servant. It’s His job.  Your job is to trust. It’s an easy burden, almost an oxymoron: the burden of lightness.

Have you ever come across something lovely in nature, like a bird singing cheerfully, or a sunbeam streaming through green boughs, and had the thought, “How can this moment of peace occur when I have so many problems? How does the world keep turning?” It makes one want to reach out somehow, and become part of that peace, that beauty. But there is a barrier in the mind that wants to keep us separate from those snapshots of serenity. I see the majesty of cloudy skies, and the warmth of sunlight, and the whisper of wind in trees, and the eternity of an incoming ocean tide, and every other marvelous work of God in nature, as a call. No, a cry. Creation is groaning for us. Begging us to break down the barrier, and see God all around us. Not only in the midst of our lives, living among the often-tangled strings of the Christian heart, but also far, far greater than all of it. The Lord is greater than our problems. He is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (1 John 3:20). That means that even when our hearts condemn us, we’ve got to believe in his grace. His grace that says to us, “I find no fault in you.” You may think your past is a waste, and that your future will be too, but God does not. You are not a failure to Him, and you never, ever, ever will be. The very blood that runs through your veins is precious to Him (Psalm 72:14). You are His beloved, and that alone makes life worth living.

Photo credit: Jared Erondu for http://www.unsplash.com

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