In central Wyoming, it wasn’t unusual for the weather to dip to 20 degrees below zero and stay there for a week or two in midwinter. Dad would call my name and tell me to follow him to the wood pile.
“Stick out your arms,” he would say.
Then he would pile me high with wood –more than I could have grabbed on my own but not so much that I couldn’t see over the top.
Carrying stuff. It’s something I understand now that I’ve been a mom. Sometimes I’m the greeter at our church, which means I hand out bulletins at the front doors. I see a mom coming, with purse and diaper bag and baby carrier. “Would you like a bulletin?” I say, and I offer to put it in between her front teeth, because where else is she going to hold onto it? She gives me a weary look.
There’s a story in the Bible, and it’s going to mean the most to moms.
Jesus gets upset at the Pharisees –a group of people who have added over 700 of their own laws to the actual laws God had given to his people.
“Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.’” (Luke 11:46 NIV)
Jesus is angry at how much his people have been given to carry –burdens that God never intended.
For moms, there are things we’re expected to carry. We have responsibilities -standards to keep that are pleasing to God. And like the firewood my dad stacked in my arms, these are going to be more than we could have picked up by ourselves but not so high that we can’t see where we’re going.
Then there are expectations, coming from who knows where, that slide onto our pile, until we’re staggering under the load. Too much. Too high. We can’t even see where to put our feet down next. And why isn’t anyone helping me? How could I possibly do all of this by myself?
But Jesus says:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28 NIV)
Why do moms often feel anxious? Because we’re carrying a load Jesus never intended us to carry. We’re trying to accomplish things to perfection that Jesus never intended us to accomplish to perfection, so we’re anxious about our constant failures.
Part of pleasing the Lord is learning what I should and shouldn’t be carrying.
I’ve been surprised in how many areas in my life I’ve been trying to follow rules where Jesus never made rules. But we need to remember that Jesus loves us too much to give us horrible burdens and then expect us to carry it them in our own strength.
What burdens are you carrying that weren't given to you by the Lord?