I was in a grocery store today and, while waiting on some friends to finish their shopping, I sat and “people watched.” A mother with a two- or three-year-old little boy was walking towards me. Little children always catch my eye. The little guy was dark-skinned, had curly black hair and was slightly built. Though he was cute as could be, it was his shoes that caught my attention. They seemed disproportionately large for his little feet.
I watched as he plodded along independently seemingly oblivious to the crowd of people all around him. But his mother wasn’t oblivious! She grabbed his hand, and simultaneously I guess the little guy decided those shoes were just too cumbersome and decided that he wanted his mom to carry him. Mom did not respond to his gestures, so he tried a different tactic—his body went limp. Again he was unsuccessful, because Mom was somehow able to maneuver him forward (it didn’t quite look like “dragging”). So though this strategy was not particularly easier on her, it did keep Little Guy from controlling the situation and calling the shots.
As I watched the little boy battle for his way, I thought how his behavior was not really so unlike we adults. When we get weary, we too often want to collapse into a ball of self-will. But just as giving in to the boy’s whims would have been detrimental to building his character and his physical skills, likewise, if God were to give in to our wishes all the time, it would prevent us from growing spiritually.
I’m not saying that parents should never carry their children, and I’m not saying that God never carries us. But I am saying that the more common way that we learn and grow in wisdom and grace and strength is by hooking up with God, not by being self-willed, faint of heart and expecting Him to make all our troubles go away. Jesus said as much when He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”*
The power in hooking up with Jesus is not that He takes our burden, but that He shares it (that’s what yokes do!). In the process, not only does our burden get lighter (because we are not carrying it by ourself), but we experience the joy of partnering with Him while receiving the peace (rest for our souls) that we long for.
I am in Trinidad for a spiritual gathering this week. I am thinking of friends and loved ones back home who are carrying burdens—some heavy, some not as heavy, but nevertheless cumbersome. My prayer is that they will find rest for their souls as they learn to partner with God.
*Matt 11:28-30 (NLT)