After speaking to a group, a young lady came up to speak to me. She asked, “How do I know what God’s burden is in my life?” It’s a great question that many of us want to know. I asked her if there was an injustice in the world or problem that she saw that breaks her heart or causes her to lose sleep. If there’s a burning desire to remedy it, that’s usually God laying His burden on our heart. It could be an un reached people group that needs the Gospel or the hungry needing food. When we start losing sleep over it and being consumed with it, that’s God wanting to use you in that area to make a difference.
Nehemiah was a man who was minding his own business and doing his job when God gave him a burden. In Nehemiah 1:3-4 he wrote, “They said to me, ‘Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (NLT). He didn’t ignore that desire. He went to Jerusalem and rebuilt its walls so that those who lived there would have protection. It wasn’t easy, and he faced opposition, but he kept at it until it was done.
In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light” (AMP ). God’s burdens are different from the ones we put on ourselves. The ones we place on ourselves look inward, but God’s look outward to help others. For some, they come suddenly like Nehemiah. For others, you may have been carrying it for years. God’s desire is to partner with each of us to do His work in this world, to make a difference in the lives of someone. What has God been showing you that needs to be repaired or corrected. It may be large or small, but either way, it needs you. I don’t know that you’ll feel qualified or ready to do it, but don’t let that stop you. Accept His burden and get started making a difference.
One of my favorite deficit learning activities to do with managers is to put them into two lines facing each other. I give them some simple instructions and ask them to work together to put a pool noodle on the floor. The instructions are easy to understand and follow and the objective is clear. However, when you get a group of people who like to give direction rather than take it, the noodle goes in the opposite direction. The more it does that, the more they get worked up. They blame each other, yell at each other and bicker. I’ve let it go on for up to twenty minutes before. To get the job done, they simply have to let one person lead and talk while they follow directions. Simple, but difficult.
Following Jesus Can feel the same way. The Bible is pretty clear and has great instructions for how we’re to live. However, we don’t like to be told what to do. We’d rather tell Jesus what to do than to listen to Him. We end up arguing with other believers, become mad at God and get burned out. It can be frustrating trying to follow what He says on,y to find ourselves going the opposite direction that we’re supposed to. We end up not only fighting our flesh, but God as well. It quickly gets frustrating and we become tired trying to perform a bunch of rituals or formulas that we think will help. The solution is simple, yet difficult for us to do. Submit ourselves to Him and His authority over our life.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light” (GNT). The life and rest we’re looking for starts with coming to Jesus admitting you can’t do it on your own. Then you must surrender to His yoke, bending your will to His so you’re working together. After that we follow in His footsteps learning from Him rather than trying to teach Him about our life. When we do that, we find His burden is easy, His yoke is light and we move in the right direction.
How heavy is the burden you’re carrying right now? We all carry burdens with us. Freedictionary.com lists these as synonyms of burden: trouble, care, worry, trial, weight, responsibility, stress, strain, anxiety, sorrow, grievance, affliction, onus, albatross, millstone, encumbrance. All these things wear us down, make us tired and cause us not to move forward. We carry them inside and try not to let anyone know that they’re weighing us down. Somehow we’ve come to believe it’s a badge of honor to bear these burdens. It’s a way to show others were stronger than they believe. The truth is that you weren’t meant to carry these heavy burdens that distract us from our purpose by ourselves.
I love Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28. He said, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis” (TPT). One version refers to this burden as a yoke which would wrap around an animals neck to help them plow. Jesus’ metaphor here is symbolic of a yoke that would hold two animals. He wants to help you carry that burden. We’re even directed as believers in Galatians 6:2 to help each other carry their burdens. In each case, it requires the burden bearer to seek that help. When a burden is shared, the weight is cut in half. Quit believing the lies that it’s yours to carry alone and that no one else cares. God is available to help you and has placed people around you to help you.
Jesus continued in Matthew 11:29, “Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.” It takes us joining our life with His and submitting to His yoke rather than our own. To me, that’s the hard part here, and in my mind it doesn’t always make sense. Yielding to Christ’s burden, rather than our own, and trusting Him with ours, is an act of faith. It’s trusting God to take care of something we’ve taken ownership of whether we were meant to or not. Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; he is the God who saves us” (GNT). God is ready and waiting for you to trust Him enough to go to Him and let Him help you day by day. Start by praying and saying out loud that you submit to His burden and need His help. Then share it with a trusted friend.
I’ve had some very different bosses throughout my working life. Some of my bosses could be referred to as micromanagers. They would give me an assignment, then breathe down my neck the whole time. They wanted it done their way or I would get in trouble. It was stressful and not very fun to work for them. Contrast them with some other bosses I’ve had that were overseers. They would hand me an assignment then back up and let me work. If I needed anything, they were always available to answer questions or give me feedback. I always felt like I thrived in that environment. I knew what was expected of me and I was able to do the work in a way that made going to work fun.
When Jesus walked on the earth, the religious leaders had made following God a lot like those micromanagers. They had a set of rules you couldn’t deviate from or they would call you out and embarrass you. They had their interpretation of living for God and forced everyone else to try to live that way too. It was burdensome and difficult. Contrast that with Jesus who took all their regulations and said they could be summed up by loving God and loving people. If they did those two things well, the rest came pretty easily. He removed the burdensome yoke of the law from our necks. In Matthew 11:28-30 He said, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear” (TPT).
God is not a micromanager giving you a heavy load of regulations that’s impossible to bear. Christianity is not a bunch of “Thou shalt not’s”. Instead it is a spiritual oasis where we join our life to His and learn to love Him and others. He forgives your past and has given you permission to heal from it. You don’t have to live under the constant condemnation of you you were. In Him, you are a new creation. The old life is gone and He has created a new life in you. I love that He said in these verses that He’s easy to please. You don’t have to live under the stress of constantly fighting for His approval. He loves you, approves of you and has lifted your old burden that was weighing you down. It’s time to live in that approval and enjoy the relationship with Him that He offers.
Recently, as I returned from a trip, my son wanted to help take my suitcase to my room. He went to grab my suitcase and computer bag, which were stacked on each other. He struggled for a minute trying to move it. Then, with a loud crashing sound, he fell with it. I walked over, helped him up, and removed the computer bag. My wife told him, “Baby, that’s too heavy for you. Don’t try to do that again. You’ll get hurt.” He was sad, but he walked away from them. He realized that as much as he wanted to move them, they weren’t made for him.
That’s the perfect example of what happens when we try to carry burdens that aren’t ours or that aren’t given to us by God. We struggle with them. We try to walk with them. Then ultimately, we come crashing down. We then try to pick them back up to try again. For many of us, this is the rut we get stuck in. Pick up, struggle, fall, repeat. But God is telling you, “That’s too heavy for you. Don’t try to carry that load. You’ll get hurt.”
I’m not sure why we try over and over to help God with burdens that aren’t ours. It doesn’t impress Him that we are trying to carry a burden He didn’t give us. Yet we think that if no one else carries it, someone has to, and that someone might as well be you. Let me set you free today. You weren’t meant to carry burdens that God didn’t give you. Set those down, and walk away. It doesn’t matter that no one else is carrying it. If God didn’t give it to you, it’s not yours to carry.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus told us, “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” (NLT). If you find yourself tired and weary all the time, give that burden to God, and pick up the burden He has for you. It’s the only way you’ll find rest, contentment, and purpose.