Thursday, April 28, 2011

Burdens, part 1

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells those who are carrying heavy burdens to come to Him, that they may have rest. Burdens can be a lot of things. They can be griefs about the past, worries about the future, weights of responsibility in the present. Jesus wants to give rest from these things, to bear them with or for you.

I am such a creature of habit that I find the lifting of a burden that I've been carrying for a long time quite unnerving, because it feels so different from what I'm used to.

Yet, it feels lovely. A burden that I have been carrying too heavily for too long is one of forcing myself externally into the right actions, of controlling what I do into being exactly what I think it ought to be. Now, please don't misunderstand me. Self-control is indeed a Christian virtue and being responsible is a good thing.

However, I was missing two very important things that have led to a great change in how I see myself and what I do and by what means I attempt to make changes in my life. First, it is so very important that external change come from internal change. Anything that I am doing (or not doing) that is wrong is coming out of something that I am thinking or feeling or perceiving wrongly, and it is so much better to deal with a problem at its root. Second, I can't make myself change by some supreme act of my own will. God can change me, not I.

What does this mean as a change in process? It means to pray about everything first. It means to ask God to show me where I am wrong in my head and my heart and to seek His help in fixing those things. That is the process I wrote about in my last post. It is also important to seek His guidance in what changes in my actions are necessary, in how He truly wants me to live. It may be that His will for my life and actions is not the same as the box I have been tempted to try to force myself into. Either way, first and foremost I must be seeking Him and being open to His will and His timing.

What a relief it is not to be in control! What a blessed, scary relief.

p.s. Don't worry! I know this doesn't mean laziness. If you have read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, I think this is a change in thought process that he talks about as the moment when you finally, truly, experientially realize that you cannot be good enough to earn salvation and that you are saved truly through faith and not works. Then, after that, of course you keep on trying to do what is right--just in a less worried way.

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