I have walked a couple of miles a day for well over a decade, usually carrying and wearing weights. I have a 12 pound weighted vest that I wear to maintain my bone density, which has been an issue for a long time. I also have a 6 pound hand weight that I lift as I walk. Needless to say, my broken elbow and torn ligaments have changed this routine!
It will be a long time before I can carry the hand weight, but I wore the weighted vest this morning for the first time in almost a month. Talk about a heavy burden! And it got me thinking about burdens this morning. The kind of burdens life gives us, like a broken elbow on vacation or a lifetime of paralysis because of an irreversible moment.
Each of us has burdens to bear, but Jesus says (ESV, Matthew 11:28-30), "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." (Emphasis mine)
I started thinking about Jesus' burdens, wondering if/how they are different from life's burdens. I believe that God can help us carry life's burdens, no doubt. I know that prayer had a great deal to do with my being able to enjoy our vacation, despite the pain and limitations of my elbow. I don't believe that God "made me" fall and break my elbow, though. It was simply an accident. Not directed at me personally, just something that happened. I was grateful to have God's peace in the aftermath, but I don't believe that it was God's will that I fall and hurt myself.
However, there are certainly "burdens" in my life that are God's will. I have to say "burdens" in quotations because I don't consider them burdens, but blessings. And that's not my wishful thinking or Pollyanna attitude; it's because they ARE God's will. The clearest example is our dear, sweet five-year-old.
My husband and I had only been married for a year and a half, and we were enjoying our empty nest together. Each of us has two older children, and we never expected to raise any more wee ones. We did enjoy our grandchildren very much, when they were able to visit! Then came a life-changing phone call asking us if we would be foster parents to one of our grandchildren, with the possibility of adopting her.
At first, I could only see the burden of how very different our life would be with a two-year-old, but after some prayer, I realized this is what God was calling us to do. We didn't accept because it was noble or the "right thing to do," we accepted because we deeply believe God was calling us to take this little girl into our home. We did end up adopting her, and she is now 5 1/2.
And our lives are vastly different from that first year and a half. Some people would say we are "burdened" by parenting our grandchild. Not us. You'll never find us wishing she were somewhere else because she is our greatest blessing! The yoke is easy and our burden is light. Truly! Not that she is always easy, but being family with her (and her extended family) is a blessing beyond measure.
Sometimes I see a need within our church or our community, and I wonder whether I should fill the void. I have learned to weigh the "burden" to help me decide. If my skills fit well, AND it is a joy to fulfill the need, then I usually volunteer. If my skills fit well, but it feels like a heavy burden to complete the task, I usually don't volunteer. THIS DOES NOT mean I only do the jobs I like or that are easy!!!! It means that when my abilities and God's will coincide, the burden will be light and the yoke easy... no matter how difficult the task. It means that the doing will be a BLESSING, not a burden.
I thank God daily for the blessings that abound in my life!