Days stack up. The to do list gets longer. The little red number on my email is approaching three digits. The sheer amount of work that needs attention is so great that it is easier to not start. So the numbers grow.
This is life. For all of us. There is always another unexpected expense. There is another emotional blow waiting around the next bend. This does not mean you have bad karma, this means you are a person. If you love people, then you are inviting complexity. If you strive towards any goal, then you will meet resistance. What do we do with all this weight? With the burden of love, or responsibility, or failure?
I will tell you what I do with it.
I picture all the love and stress I carry as a backpack. Every morning, I look to see what is in my backpack. I wake up earlier than I need to and bow my head low before the God of Heaven. Together, we look at what is in there. We take stuff out and talk about it. We talk about the day, and I put stuff in there that I am gonna need for the day’s journey. Gonna need some strength for a long run? I ask for some strength. Gonna need some wisdom, I ask for wisdom. If there is something I need that I don’t have, I talk to Him about that. If I am afraid about the journey, I lay that before Him. As the time of prayer comes to an end, I put the backpack away and thank Him for His love and kindness.
The days can be long. It fills up my backpack. It is so full I can’t fit nothing else in there. Sometimes it is so full I have to take out some things I am really gonna need tomorrow in order to fit the burden in there. This picture is so complete that my shoulders begin to get sore under the strain. When I get massages, they tell me my upper back is a knotty mess. It’s because this is where I carry the weight. Every night, after the kids are put to bed and my wife kisses me goodnight, I turn off the TV. I lower my head there on the couch and bring out the burdens. I empty out the bag once again. As I bring out some of the people who’s story has crossed my own, I pray for them, asking God to see them and be near. I go through all that stuff and empty out the top of it. I put the weight with on Him who carries all. These burdens are too much for me to bear. One week of life is enough to knock me over. So I give it away. I put these things I care about so much into His hands. This doesn’t mean I forget. It doens’t mean I don’t feel affection. But it does mean I take off the responsibility of it. I can’t save the people I love. I can’t carry them, nor fix the problem, nor walk their journey in their place. I can’t even navigate my own journey much of the time.
Inevitably, the bottom of the bag fills up with stuff that requires more attention. I am gonna have to empty this thing out on the floor and pull out some Febreeze and a vacuum. This level of soul care is done in the quiet, when I have more than a half hour of free time. About once a month I empty out the backpack and get it pristine. I may not completely empty it, but I am at least aware of what’s in it.
That’s how I walk in the world. I am constantly laying my burdens down before the feet of Jesus. He carries me. He carries those I love. He carries my fears and my burdens. He is my master and best friend. And He does for me what no one else can do. He fills me up and sets me free.