The musical sound of my daughter’s voice met me as I walked through the laundry door into the house.
“Hello,” I answered with a smile. “I didn’t realise you were home.”
As was her usual custom each afternoon, Kylie had made it her first and most important priority to seek me out and share her latest news. Even though her brother always made a bee line to his bedroom in order to remove all contaminating traces of school life, Kylie never did. No matter how uncomfortable she may be in her school shoes and uniform, she would always spend her first few minutes after arriving home giving me an overview of the day’s highlights. The importance of this time even meant not stopping to take off her heavy back pack.
Very few Australian high schools have locker facilities for their students; and our school is no exception. This means that everything required for the day (notebooks, folders, text books, pens, pencils, lunch, etc) has to be carried in a bag of some variety.
In my day it was a brief case. Now it’s a back pack, which is a great improvement as far as positioning the load when compared to the arm stretching case of my school days. However, the fact remains that these bags are an incredible weight.
Even so, Kylie’s eagerness to talk to her Mum meant that she willingly endured the load for a little longer than was necessary.
As Kylie chatted, I filled our little pup’s water bowl at the laundry sink and then walked back outside with it. The minute Tiger saw Kylie standing at the doorway, he bounced up and down with joy. Although I know this tiny dog loves us all, I’ve always suspected that he holds a very special place in his heart for “his girl” – and the feeling is mutual.
Just as I was about to walk back inside, Kylie bent down by the screen door to say hello to her much loved pup, effectively blocking my way.
“Come on Kyles, move it.” I said from my place on the doorstep.
“I can’t!” She squeaked in explanation. “I’m stuck!”
With a chuckle, I gave her a gentle push and said, “Oh come on, stand up and hop out of the way.”
“No, I’m serious,” she said with a self-conscious laugh. “Honest, I’m stuck!”
And stuck she most definitely was! As Kylie had bent over to talk to Tiger, the weight of her backpack had locked her into position, leaving her completely immobilised and unable to push herself upright.
Manoeuvring myself a little closer to her side, I grabbed the bag and started to pull. Even though I’d known it was heavy, the actual weight of it still managed to take me by surprise. It was no wonder that she’d been pinned down at a perfect right angle!
“Perhaps it might be a good idea to take the backpack off as soon as you get home in future.”
Kylie agreed with my suggestion and happily headed off to her room to lay her burden down!
As she went I couldn’t help but think about how many Christians live every day in exactly the same position as my darling daughter. Of course they aren’t physically bowed down by a literal load, but way too many do carry a heavy burden on their soul. A burden that, because of Christ, has no right to be there at all.
For some it may be a burden from the past which has filled them with regret, hurt, sorrow and shame. With every passing day this type of load only becomes heavier and harder to bear. At times the weight can become so great that, like Kylie, the load bearer may find themselves totally immobilised.
The Christian walk is always meant to be progressive and in a forward direction. Trying to travel onward, while carrying the weight of the past, just makes the journey so much harder. In Christ we’ve been set free from carrying these loads, which makes it even more difficult to understand why so many of us continue to do it. What’s in the past has passed! We each have to come to a place of being willing to lay down those things that are a burden, receive the forgiveness that is ours through Christ and believe that in Him we have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).
However, not all burdens are from days gone by. Some are because of circumstances right here and now, and some are due to the fear of those unknown things yet to come.
Once again, as Christians we don’t need to feel overwhelmed or crushed by circumstances or uncertainty. The same God who has been faithful to forgive our sins, is faithful to all His promises and will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). We just have to trust Him and let go of the anxiety, panic and fear.
But there is one other type of burden, which I believe is perhaps the most common of all and yet probably the most unrecognised. In fact, it’s quite possible that you may be carrying this type of load right now and not even realise it. I know that throughout my Christian walk, I’ve been bent over and impeded by it way too many times.
What is it? Quite simply, it’s the burden of expectations
Although this is something that most people experience throughout life in their relationships or work place, it is, unfortunately, also very common within the Christian community. For the most part, the burden of other people’s expectations is totally unintentional. It would be a very unusual person who actually set out to weigh their brother or sister down. Yet unintentional or not, it still happens. I wonder how many of us have come close to burning out because we’ve tried to fill everyone’s idea of Christian perfection.
The trouble with trying to follow all the “Christian rules” and attempting to do everything that other people require, is that it causes a serious shift in our focus. Instead of following our Saviour’s lead and doing only what the Father requires, we get caught in a whirlwind of activities and programmes that may stop us from doing the very things God does desire for our lives!
Even though the things we’re asked to do may all be extremely good and worthwhile, if we’re doing them because we “should” rather than out of a heartfelt desire, then we’ve just added another stone to our backpack!
For me, release from all the “shoulds” and expectations came when I finally believed Christ’s words when He said:
The Father’s desire is for His children to travel free and light, with no extra baggage. Whenever we begin to feel weighed down, we need to stop and evaluate whether we’re really doing the Lord’s work or simply trying to please man. This type of burden is very subtle and because it hides behind a mask of righteousness, is extremely easy to miss. However, its weight is just as oppressive and destructive as any other burden.
Kylie didn’t have to carry that weight as long as she did. The minute she arrived home she could have dropped her bag and then enjoyed the freedom that rightfully belonged to her as soon as she walked through the door. But because she chose to keep it on, she then had to cope with the consequences.
You know, we arrived "home" the minute we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Saviour; and as soon as we walked through that door we had the freedom to throw off all the encumbering baggage.
Thanks to Christ and His amazing love, sacrifice and grace, we don’t have to carry that weight anymore, because it’s already being carried by Him.
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