Sometimes we can see something every day without really noticing it, and then one day…BAM! It’s as if we’re seeing it for the first time. Or we read the same thing over and over, and then without warning, new meaning explodes in our minds. Such was the case when a friend included a scripture in an email she sent to me recently.
“Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you”. – Psalm 55:22
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read that highlighted verse in my bible. The following passage is highlighted as well. “Come to me, all 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 of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11: 28-30). It’s a nice thought, but can it be done? How does it work?
Yes, I know the mantra, “Let go, and let God.” And believe me, I’ve tried…time and time again. I’ve placed the wounds of abuse in a box and handed it over to Him saying, “It’s yours, God. I can’t carry this anymore. It’s far too heavy.” I’ve imagined tying each heartache to a balloon and letting them float up to heaven, special delivery, for His care and keeping. There have been many tearful and sleepless nights where I’ve flung my grief and pain at Him, never wanting to feel or see them again. “Take it, God! Take it all, and take it now,” I’ve raged.
There were times when I was so crushed by the weight of emotional anguish that God, in His goodness and mercy, lifted the burdens off my shoulders for a while and carried them for me. But they always returned. It was as if everything I gave to Him had a bungee cord attached to it. The reprieve might last an hour, a day, or even a week, but inevitably it would come zinging back. At times, I could feel the weight settle slowly on my shoulders and then encompass my entire body as if I’d been wrapped in a wet wool blanket. “No, not again,” I’d cry.
This boomerang effect led me to believe God expected me to bear the scars and carry the wounds of mortality as a form of character development for the soul. This was obviously the “refiner’s fire” necessary to help me become more like God. He must see a purpose in me carrying the weight of my life experiences. Therefore, I needed to shoulder the heavy burdens of life, and do so in gratitude and without complaint to gain His further acceptance. But I wasn’t very good at it.
Where is the instruction manual that outlines how much God expects me to carry alone and for how long? How do I know what portion to give to God, and more importantly, how do I give it to Him? What’s the formula? If x equals rest, how do I solve for x? Math was never my best subject.
For years I’ve tried to bear life’s challenges with patience, waiting for the Lord to apply His healing balm to my wounds. As much as I’ve desired to move forward, I’ve been hindered by the emotionally crippling injuries inflicted by those I loved. Dropping those burdens and pains at His feet and walking away didn’t seem right, as I had valuable lessons to learn from those experiences. So in my quest for relief and understanding, I did all I’d been trained to do. I pulled myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and went to work…LDS-style. My list of good works went on and on. As did my pain and anxiety. What was I doing wrong? What was I missing?
Then that wonderful email arrived with this message. “You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. Put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. The ‘Cross’ or burden we bear was never intended to be carried alone. Jesus, Himself, did not carry His own cross to Calvary but had assistance. What a beautiful picture this is of Jesus taking one end of our cross; ‘Here, [child] let Me take one end of this.’ “
My mind and heart burst with new understanding, made possible by the new lens with which I’m viewing this great and mighty God of the Bible. All my life, I’d been viewing the “cross” of mortal affliction to be a case of His or mine, rather than OURS! I’d never considered carrying it TOGETHER. How could I have missed this beautiful concept so completely?
One stumbling block was the false belief that the Almighty God resided in the heavens, and in temples of brick and mortar. He wasn’t here with ME, at least not very often. He was far too busy with running the world and keeping the universe together to spare more than a moment here and there to comfort my heart. General Conference talks that preached the Holy Spirit was easily offended by sin, evil thinking, questionable music or an unwholesome television program had me convinced the Spirit wasn’t around much, especially in my home.
“But sin in any form offends the Holy Ghost. You must not do anything or go anywhere that offends the Spirit. You cannot afford that risk. Should sin cause you to fail, you would not only be responsible for your own sins but for the sorrow you might have prevented in the lives of others had you been worthy to hear and obey the whisperings of the Spirit.” Eyring-April 2001
Since many of my life experiences would be unfit for television, I surmised that I must be offensive to God! With the X-rated events of my life, how could He NOT be offended and flee from me?
The paradigm shift of that morning was glorious, indeed. Yes, my friend, it IS a beautiful picture to imagine! The Savior of the world, whose Spirit dwells constantly in my heart, in spite of my sinful nature, carries my burdens with me! And just as He healed the diseased, the blind, and those taken in sin, He is healing me! His yoke is easy, and so is mine when we are yoked together. His burden is light, and so is mine because He is strong. I will cast my burdens on Him for He is mighty enough to carry them.
And so I pray…Thank You, Jesus, for taking one end of my cross and walking with me. Thank you for loving me enough to do it even though I am an unprofitable servant. Thank You for providing rest and comfort that can only be found in You. And thank you for giving me ears to hear truth from friends who know You better than I do, and remind me of this truth when I forget.
I see more clearly today than yesterday, but not as clearly as I’ll see tomorrow at the rate God is opening my eyes to truth and grace.