Every once in a while I come across an article that I love—or learn so much from—that I want to share it with E V E R Y B O D Y. Jennifer Slattery’s post where she shares another author’s thoughts on the difference between easing someone’s burden and unnecessarily taking on another person’s load is one of these articles. According to Sherri Wilson Johnson, a burden is something that has been placed upon us without any wrongdoing on our part (like a birth defect or growing up in an abusive home). A load, on the other hand, is something you have picked up on the road of life and chosen to carry, even though it has made your way harder.
We must never do for others what they should be doing for themselves, yet too often we fall victim to our own tendency to be overly helpful and understandably frustrated when loaded down people take advantage of our niceness. When I think of the countless times that I have rescued someone from their own insubordination, I am appalled by mine. Galatians 6:5 tells us that “each one should carry their own load” yet over and over I find myself ignoring this command, not just at my peril, but also someone else’s.
“We’ve all made mistakes and can sympathize with people who are trapped in a sinful place.” Johnson commiserated. “It is tempting to swoop in and try to pluck this person out of the muck and mire. However, it is not always an easy thing to do nor is it the right thing to do. If this person is stuck or if he is like a stubborn mule, fighting your every effort, then sometimes you must leave him to his own devices. Turn him over to a reprobate mind. Take off your sandals and shake off the dust.”
I am tired of sweeping up after someone else’s stubborn choices. Aren’t you? Galatians 6:7 tells us that “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” so let’s stop getting in the way and take Hebrews 12:1 to heart as we throw “off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and run the race that was meant for us, NOT another sinner, by easing other people’s burdens without taking on unnecessary pain.
This weekend at church, the most adorable little girl stood on the seat in front of me. She was wearing a beautiful silver dress and had a pair of velvet Mickey Mouse ears perched on top of her head. Her headband reminded me of the year that Bill and I took our daughters to Disney World on the Fourth of July. It was crowded and stressful and I told myself that we would never do that again.
No one wants to be so busy during the holidays that they have no time to enjoy them, yet so many of us pack our pre-Christmas days with an overwhelming number of To Dos. This year I resolved to not to fall into this trap, largely out of necessity. On the day before Thanksgiving, I had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur and repair a tear in the labrum of my left hip. Several people who have seen me hobbling around on crutches have commented on how awful it must feel to not be able to walk over the holidays but I don’t see it that way because knowing that I would spend all of December on crutches motivated me to get ready for Christmas early.
Proverbs 13:4 teaches us that the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied, but sometimes God works through circumstances to drive home the lesson. With presents wrapped, cards ordered, and decorations up before December 1st, I had none of those distractions to keep me from serving and spending time with friends and family.
Diligence is the earnest and persistent application to an undertaking, not a frenzied race to December 25th, so let’s make Proverbs 13 our mantra for 2013 and lean on God’s promises every day.
Watching Barack Obama’s inauguration on television in January of 2009 reminded me of the year that my daughters and I stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Actually, I and Hollie stood on the steps as we watched Katie lie down in protest because she couldn’t take another step. I find it interesting that, at the same place where my daughter decided she was too tired to go on, another person now stood ready to take over.
How many times have we forgotten that we have someone to turn to when we’re exhausted? That when our life is spinning out of control because we have too much to do in very little time, there’s someone much more qualified than us to manage our To Do list? My prayer for President Obama’s years in office is that he (and all of us) will remember that, with God on the throne, we are never alone: He is with us every step of the way.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”