I believe this is so vital to understand ourselves and the true nature of God!
“Come to me, all you who labor and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
This Scripture has always been one of my favorites and a wonderful reminder to me to take all the worry and stress in my life to the Lord and that he will carry me though whatever struggles life brings me into. However upon further study something suddenly popped out to me that I have never seen before.
“Take my yoke upon you”
All of the sudden I get this and it stands out as this bright beacon of hope, that makes this passage mean more to me that it ever has before (and that is saying something). God is taking all of my worries and everything that weighs me down, and he gives me his burden to bear. But what is this burden and how can a burden be light?
I believe that the burden consists very simply of seeing people find salvation through Christ and showing them the abundance of his mercy and grace. I also believe that this burden presents to each and every person in a completely unique and individual way. Christ takes the burden that we used to bear and uses that to show us the people that he needs us to reach.
All the pain we’ve ever gone though, all the bad decisions that we have made, God desires to take from us and turn into a beautiful testimony of healing. This is a wonderful thing, because there are people who won’t accept truth from unless you have been in that situation. Being able to share a common pain is one of the best ways to lead people to finding their identity in Christ.
The world doesn’t need a bunch of people wearing masks, masquerading around like we have no hurt. Surrender your burdens to God and let him give you his, for the hurting people in the world, and that will heal you even more.
I have found that in my life there are four possible types of tears that occur at a funeral. They can each happen individually or maybe just two of them but in some case you get hit with all four.
Type one, is your own personal grief that is measureable to how well you knew the deceased. A one on the scale is, I was acquainted with them and grieve over the loss of good person from the world. A ten on the scale is the people you consider family, this can be blood relatives or simply someone that is has made a large impact on your life.
Type two is empathy for the grief of others. I personally consider myself to be a pretty empathic person and so I feel this one pretty acutely. Whenever I see someone crying I am bound to cry right alongside them.
Type three is a rekindling of grief that you have felt for the past losses in your life. This is one of the most difficult for me as I have felt some pretty immeasurable grief. Grief in my life is like an ocean that like a tide that rises and falls. When at a funeral I always experienced at least one of the aforementioned tears, but when there is a combination of these tears present, personal pain has a way of resurfacing.
Type four is fear of future grief. Funerals make us look our mortality and the mortality of those close to us.
This past Tuesday I went to a funeral of a wonderful woman of God, someone with whom several of my friends had lived and she was a very close friend to my great aunt with whom I am very close. I knew her enough to be saddened by the loss of a sincere and truly kind woman. I had tears welling up in my eyes several times during the service, but it was the committal service at the grave side that really broke me down.
I’ve been to a lot of funerals in my life and something that especially stands out in Mennonite services is that, they always bury the deceased. The funeral directors will lower the casket into the ground and they will begin to cover the grave with shovels and anyone that wishes to participate can take a turn.
I grew up with this, but only after I had seen people leave their loved one there for someone else to bury, could I really appreciate this act. This is the last thing you can do for someone, to really lay them to rest. It is also good for my soul to release that person and it provides a sense of closure.
So here we were laying this woman to rest, the family and close friends taking turns to cover the grave, while the rest of those at the grave were singing songs about how beautiful Heaven must be, and I see some people letting go of the grief that they had try to keep inside, then like the swell of the tide I am overcome by all four of the tear triggers.
There was sadness for the loss of this woman, sorrow for the family who all too recently had a much more sudden and seemingly senseless death, that I know they all must have been have been feeling as well, I was overwhelmed by the reality that three graves in this cemetery were occupied by people that I loved greatly, my father, his brother, and another great aunt who also helped raise me, and lastly the fear that I would lose someone else in my family.
I wanted desperately not to lose control of my emotions, this wasn’t really my loss, and this was not the place to revisit the grief I constantly try to shove into a safe all the way in the back of my mind.
As this service ends my friend hugs me and says “we can go over to your dad’s grave I’ll sit in the grass with you”, I was reluctant at first I did not want to let go, because sometimes when I start crying it feels like it will never stop, but I decided to go. I get there and I can’t hold it in any longer I sob so much it gave me a headache but my friend was there holding on to me and it was then I realized that I always feel much better when I let myself feel. Yes, even the pain. I don’t do myself or anyone else any good by ignoring my feelings, masquerading around like I have everything together.
Death sucks, losing my dad has been one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, that I still go though. Sometimes I have wished him back so much, but that grief and loss have enabled me in ministering to people and so I will not be ashamed to feel it when it bubbles up inside me. I miss him, I miss what he won’t be here for, that I don’t really know who he was, and that I don’t get to go to him when I wish I could.
I was that little girl that had life planned out down to the very last detail. I was going to have a cool single life like on friends but I would always have a boyfriend and then I would get married by 25 and then start having babies. I would live in a beautiful Victorian house not unlike on the manor on Charmed and there I would be a stay at home mom and raise brilliant children.
I very rarely have a boyfriend; I don’t have a super cool friends group that hangs out together all the time. Most of my close friends are married and while we still do things, our lives have taken us different directions and it can be hard sometimes to stay in touch.
I could technically get married by 25, however that seems very unlikely, considering my history and I really feel like I would need more time then I could currently be provided with to really know someone well enough to agree to deal with them for the entirety of my life. Also having babies right away does not sound like a great plan to have.
I don’t feel an overwhelming disappointment with the path I have taken. Sure I have made some pretty big screw up, but I really feel like even those things have taught me a lot. Even the ones I am still trying to recover from. I do however find myself struggling with being alone.
Now I do not mean alone, like I need a man, just I desire that friend group that I could hang out with a lot. I mean sure a man would be nice also, but I still need community with like minded individuals.
The problem is how to meet people. I don’t have a home church (an entirely different struggle I’ve been in), and I never went to college, so I’ve just really not been sure where to start or how to connect.
My mission is to become more involved in my community, try harder to find a home church, and maybe get into a class or activity that I find interesting.
“Don’t worry, God will never give you more than you can handle” ~Christians everywhere~
How often have we all heard this line? It seems to be peddled by Christians as some bright shiny beacon of hope. I used to cling to this as some sort of holy promise to me. If I tell the Lord that I am not strong enough for this the cup will not be mine to bear. Yet it constantly seems to fall short for me. I suffered many years, struggling with the loss of my father, among numerous other struggles, but I knew that God gave me this burden because he knew that I would be able to handle it. But I couldn’t handle it, not any of it. My soul ached and my heart was very heavy.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
“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 in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Never once in the Scriptures does it say anything about God not giving you more than you can handle. In fact what it does promise is that as a follower of Jesus Christ that you will face persecution and all sorts of evil will be done against you. It also says that the rains fall on the just and the unjust.
The really great news is that despite the knowledge that times will come that you can’t handle it, it promises that when you take these things to the Lord that his power his made known in your weakness , and when the burden becomes too heavy to bear he will carry it for you.
The bad news is that so many people have been told this for so long they believe that they have to come up with the strength to get through it, but they struggle everyday and find no rest because they believe that they are somehow failing.
God does not make you strong; he puts his strength inside of you and carries the load that you cannot bear. That is a far more glorious promise. I don’t have to be strong I just have to allow him to have power and dominion in my life and he will do the rest.
What if we all could agree on one thing? A simple statement that I am fairly certain is true. We all believe something that is not truth. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who would not admit that they do not know everything. It’s not for lack of trying, but simple because each and every one of us is fallible. You can do all the research that you want, or you can believe something because it is the only thing that makes any sense to you at all, but that fact remains that there is almost certainly something that you believe that is not truth.
Yet, we do not approach people or life in this way. We would never say it, but so often we go into a situation or conversation riddled with controversy, believing that we are the only one who really grasps the truth. Even more than that, we believe that anyone who does not agree with us is either ignorant or taking the easy way out of a situation; never once believing that they have come to the decision that they have with any of the earnest sincerity that we have.
Are there people in the world who believe or live the way they do because it was the easy thing to do, I am quite sure there is. But I am now more than ever convinced that this is the minority not the majority or people.
We were, each of us created completely unique and set apart for a very specific thing though Christ. Yet we persist in tearing each other down and picking apart those who dare to disagree with us. We forget the very foundation of our faith in Jesus, Love.
Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
What if we really accept that reality that we don’t know everything and that someone may have sought truth to the same degree as you, even with the same information as you and come up with a different answer? Let the spirit of Christ work in our own hearts and through other people’s hearts not through our words but through our prayers and actions.
How often do you find that you change someone’s mind by belittling them or by refuting their entire belief? I have tried that and it has never worked for me. Let us rather hold each other accountable to being open to the Holy Spirit, and to loving people.