I’ve been carrying a burden, a deep burden my whole life. It’s heavy, this burden, but it’s always been there, like a really heavy second skin, so after a while I guess I didn’t notice it any more. In fact, I can’t remember when I stopped remembering it was there. I think I remember this kind of ache in my shoulders at my third birthday party, but I’m not sure exactly. It might be a story someone told me, although it feels like it was real when I think about it. But for sure after that, I just stopped paying attention to it. It was almost like that burden wasn’t there, except that it was.
Late last night, just after midnight, I found I couldn’t sleep. If I turned onto my side, my neck wrenched. If I turned onto my back, my head ached. If I turned onto my belly, I couldn’t breathe. It was like there was this weight pressing down on me. That’s when I realized: there was a weight pressing down on me! It was there the whole time, if only I would open my eyes to see.
We got up, me and my burden, and went down to the kitchen table to have a cup of coffee. As I sat there with this burden on my shoulders, I realized for the first time how cramped and contorted and misshapen I had become with this burden on me. It had made me feel cranky and irritable and vulnerable. Out of that vulnerability, I had become aggressive and confrontational. Isn’t it possible, I thought, that all the world’s problems come from people under burdens just like mine? What if that is what keeps us from treating each other as brothers and sisters? The good part, I mean; not the part where they keep saying, “He’s on my side of the line! He touched me! He’s making faces!” You know, like brothers and sisters who get along.
“Hoo boy,” I said to myself. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get this burden off my back? Then I could stretch my neck and stand up straight and feel better. Wouldn’t it be great if I could feel better?”
Right as I finished thinking this thought, literally right at the end of the “etter” in “better”, a passage from the Bible came into my head. You may know I’ve been reading the Bible for some years now, in an effort to understand where all these people I’ve disagreed with are coming from. Well, the following passage from the Bible, a pretty famous one, John 3:16, came into my head:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Everlasting life? Hang on, I thought, with a bit of cynicism. Everlasting life with this burden on my back didn’t sound like such a good option. But then I pulled my copy of King James off the shelf and came upon 1 Peter 5:6-8:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
If I only humble myself before God and give thanks to the Lord, I can toss my burden over to him, and he’ll catch it, and hold onto it for me and everything. That’s a pretty good deal.
And that burden’s pretty heavy, but if I watch out and tell the Lord when I see the devil about, walking around and looking to eat anything, I can just tell him and he’ll toss that burden onto the devil’s back. Crush!
It sounds so good, so freeing, so liberating. It sounds like a better deal than walking around with this burden on my shoulders all the time, the burden that was so constant I just plain forgot about it. I can stop walking around with this burden if I just do one simple thing: accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior! The burden is the burden of sin, the burden of all the bad things I have done… and yes, I have done bad things, starting even before that third birthday party. Added to all that is the burden of the sin I was even born with, the sin of having had great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents who were cast out of the garden of Eden for eating fruit from the wrong tree, although that part is really just a story; the problem is that they tried to gain knowledge and control over things, to become gods. We got burdens ever since then for being greedy people who try to gain knowledge and to have an impact on the world around them, when knowledge and power are really the provenance of God.
So here’s my thinking, having stayed up the rest of the night and through the morning thinking about this. Here’s the deal that stands before me:
My end of the deal: I give up the idea that I can have an effect on the world around me and give up the search for knowledge of my own device. Instead, I put my trust in God and the Bible as the source of information and wisdom. The Bible tells me to accept Jesus as my personal savior, as the one who can make everything feel better, so I do it. Jesus’ end of the deal: In return, Jesus will take my burdens away and I will feel clean and stand up straight and bask in the light of the divine. I won’t be perfect, but I’ll be forgiven and feel good.
You know, if it’s legit, that’s actually a pretty good deal. Just give up the quest for earthly pursuits, stop trying to act like I’m a god by gathering knowledge and understanding from the world in my own right, trust in Jesus and the Bible instead, let them be divine, let them let me off the hook, and feel a whole lot better, forever.
170 million Americans have done it. Can 170 million Americans be wrong? The search for knowledge in this world is such a crock! I’m looking forward to another world to help me feel good. It’s time for me to lay down my burden and get what’s coming to me.