Carrying Burdens | A Guest Post by Rev. Mary Powell
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, how heavy is this glass of water? "
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. "
He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. So, before you return lie down to rest tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it to bed. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short.”
Just like holding a glass of water for what seems to be forever, these days of isolation continue to plod along, stretching across our calendars and relentlessly eating up the life events we had planned: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, celebrations of other milestones yet to come. In faith many of us are writing future events onto our calendars, prayerfully lifting our hopes that look forward to so many things we want to do: go to school, find a job, work in an office instead of home, play football and baseball games, meet new students/teachers, get married, meet other Christians in joyful worship… But, each day during this pandemic is eaten up like the old time pokemon gobbler consuming hour after hour… each moment slipping away.
But there is a difference in my life and hopefully yours, we are not alone holding onto the days ahead. We have One who shares our burdens, eases the stress, and helps us focus on living life celebrating the present moments and making life full of meaning while honoring our God at the same time. Stress sneaks up on us. We may not even know we are holding on so hard, white knuckled hands, with minds that want to fog up.
Jesus says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.
I really like the translation from The Message: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Like me, you may have a long, long prayer list because so many people are sick, dying, needing help, have lost their jobs, are threatened by the virus, fear death. Many of us are tired of being isolated completely from those they love. Others are tired of being locked in with their families, especially restless children. Some of us may even be on a perpetual hamster wheel of denial through playing computer games or doing some other repetitious activity in an attempt to ignore our stress. How is that working for you?
However, Jesus promises that His perspective will give us rest, in other words enable us to handle the stress. When we look upon our lives from God’s point of view, we will be able to relax and even slow down our heart rate, give thanks for all God is doing for us, and enjoy the gift of time to pray, meditate, read, be creative. There are Psalms that will speak the sad, fearful, or happy thoughts we can’t even verbalize. God invites us to lament our losses and fears like other Psalms and the book of Lamentations do. Then the next step is to place those words on the altar of our hearts so the Lord can take them and lift them off our minds so we can move forward to rest and enjoy the life we have here and now, one day at a time.
" A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”
-Rev. Mary Powell