Sunday, January 11, 2009
Carry Your Story, Loose Your Burdens
I've been thinking a lot this weekend. You can imagine, the type of thinking you start to wish you could just stop with a switch. Well, I did, I took a long afternoon nap.
I've been thinking about the Christian life. I've been thinking about this verse:
(forgive me I don't know the reference)
"Let us throw off every burden
And the sin which so easily entangles,
and let us RUN with endurance
The race that is set BEFORE us."
Notice the verse does not read like this:
"Let us gather our rocks of guilt and shame,
Let us put them on our backs and tie up our feet with falsehoods,
and let us hobble backwards as much as possible
All the days of our lives."
I know, it's ridiculous isn't' it?! Yet, it's easily done. This is how:
"Let us throw off every burden"- what are the things that burden us? They are guilt and shame from the wrong things we have done. Maybe Christ has forgiven us but we have not forgiven ourselves. Perhaps they are wrongs done against us or bitterness that collects and is not cleaned out of our hearts. They can be fear of the future and pain of the past. They are heavy collections of what has gone wrong and what we fear MAY still go wrong in our lives. They can even be non-sinful things that have just gone wrong for us in life. They can be loss and misfortune or temporal distresses the Lord has allowed to take place. They only become a burden when we keep carrying them ourselves. He intends for them to make us strong but if we carry them as burdens we will be weaker and even stunted. We will also not be focused on Him and what he wants us to do from there, we will only see the burden in our hands and the tears that fall upon it.
What are we to do with them? LAY THEM ASIDE! Throw them off. They have no place on the backs of the followers of Christ and not because of us but because of...well, I'll tell you what because of in a minute.
"And the sin which so easily entangles"- What is the sin that entangles us? When I think of entangling I think of secrets and lies; falsehoods spoken from and against us. I also think of idols that can even be ourselves or others that we put before Christ and serve above or in place of Him. They trap us, they trip us up.
What are we to do with them? BE FREE OF THEM! Not allow ourselves to become entangled. Not allow anything to take the place of truth and freedom in Christ's redemptive work in our lives. Entangling gives me the mind picture of lot's of little things that become big things and cause hurt, mistrust, pain and grief. We are to avoid them with truth and Love. Our result will be joy and peace. We do not do this for us, we do it because...well, I'll tell you what because in a minute!:)
"And let us RUN with endurance"- To run is not only to move forward, but to move forward quickly looking neither to the right nor to the left but straight and quick to our goal. There is no doddling, no staying in the tangles and burdens and no walking aback to pick them up again once we laid the down just to remember what it was like to carry them. No remembering of them at all except in testimony of the glory of He who freed us from them. We are to RUN! How do we run? We carry on in the will of God in joy and freedom and we delight in the steps that we take and the energy and strength the Lord gives us from himself to make them. We do not run for ourselves, we run because...well, I'll tell you what because in a minute.:*
"The race that is set BEFORE us"- What is before is never defined by what lies behind. It is however a developed story along the way of what the Lord has done for us along the way and why BECAUSE OF THAT we are able to press BEFORE US in joy. "Look what he did back there! My burden is gone and he made my path more beautiful and gave me more strength because of it!" "Praise him and let me share with you!" "You can let go too, and you can run with endurance because of His goodness!". You do not run back to examine your burdens and consider picking them up again. That would shame Him who took them from you so that you can run before in freedom. Yet, you also do not feel shame when you say what they were and that His work has taken them off of you as you press BEFORE. You continually testify what makes you run straight and strong and to mention that you may need to tell of the entangling and the burdens but you DO NOT take them with you for show and tell! They are gone and at the feet of Jesus. You do not do this for you....you do it for ....
Have you got it yet? YES! YOU DO IT FOR HIM! He alone allows us to lay aside the burdens and lay them at his feet. He alone detangles the messes we make in our lives so we can run ahead. Yet, even in that, we do not run for ourselves, we run for Him! We testify for Him! We focus on Him and He does not disappoint. We make the decsion to RUN, we do not wait for the mood to hit us or the feelings to push us ahead. We just do it. (isn't that ironically a Nike comercial slogan?) We also do not pray, and I know we do this, "Lord HELP me forgive this person becuase I know you want me to Lord". I don't ever remember reading a scripture that says to pray that the Lord would help us forgive, it does just say to forgive. It's a decision also and we are to just do it. On the way the gifts we find along the way are the fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, and Peace being the main ones from which the others flow. Love, is above all else for it covers a multitude of sins. Sins we hold over ourselves, and sins we hold over others. Love is the minister of burden lifting and detangling. We can NEVER BE out of the will of God when we are showing love in His name.
To forget these things, to forget Him who has freed us; to take back up our burdens or not to drop them at all, to leave our feet in tangles, to freeze out of fear and not put our feet forward not only to doddle but to RUN, is to loose focus on Christ. The author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set BEFORE HIM, endured the cross. So that you, so that I, so that we, can RUN. So we can feel the breezes of life hit us in the face without shame for what lies behind us and without fear of what is yet ahead. He who holds us does not rest. He neither sleeps nor slumbers. He is intent and intimately aware of the details of our path and He desires that we RUN BEFORE for Him. We are not to argue with him as to what we still feel we aught to have to carry. That is called guilt and there is no room for it in his race. We cannot say "Lord, I thank you for forgiving me of this boulder but I think I deserve to carry it still because of the wrong I did you". "No, he says, I bled so you could lay it aside but more than that, you will not be able to RUN BEFORE as I want you to, not for you, but for me, and your burden would remind and condemn you along the way. Therefore, you do not get to decide to carry it. I tell you to lay it aside. You need to obey me. I love you and know what is good for you.
There is no room for walking backwards in the Christian life. By throwing off burdens you are free to shamlessly declare that you had them, that they are gone and that God has made you free. By refusing entanglement you keep you feet steady and prepared to go forward.
We live in a burdensome world of sin. I think that the reason Jesus wants us to run before every moment in the light of his redemptive work is this: if we stand still or meander back hording our burdens as our own or allowing our feet to stay entangled we not only become non-productive in the work of Christ, but we stand the chance of becoming consumed the longer we stand still. Any message beside the one that is from the Lord telling us to lay them aside, is a message of deception and it will allow those burdens to grow and those tangles to spread.
I personally don't want to waste any time in my life when I could be RUNNING BEFORE.....
FREE with a story in my pocket but not a pebble on my back.
(this is my last post for real now as my computer goes out tomorrow morning. feel free to comment, i will take the moderators off so you can leave them and I will try to check in from my neighbors till the computer comes back)