This Easter I talked about the Unburdened Way. I’m just convinced that so much of the weight we carry emotionally, relationally, spiritually comes from going our way instead of God’s way. The cross tells us that we can be forgiven, even when we go our way and fail and fall. But forgiveness is not the end, it’s the means to the end—the end is Life Unburdened (starting now, growing, lasting eternally)—and the resurrection reminds us of His power to give us Life. But how do we practically live the Unburdened Way?
Burdens are Real
The confusion about what I have to “own” or “do something about”—that’s real. The Unburdened Way is not the way of irresponsibility, just the opposite; it’s the way of right responsibility. The key is differentiating my responsibility from God’s responsibility and letting God be God (he calls the shots) and accepting human limitations (and finite, manageable responsibility).
Come to Me
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). First, when we are feeling burdened (work feels like too much, we can’t fix or change our kids, spouse, significant other, or temptation feels irresistible, or fear is dominating our emotions), that becomes the flashing red light that reminds us to “go to Him.” So often the reason we stay heavy burdened is simply because we keep thinking we have to stay heavy burdened—it’s all ours to carry—so we keep trying and trying and getting more and more weary. So whenever I’m feeling stressed, anxious, dismayed, overwhelmed, that’s my signal that I’m doing something wrong—so I just say “Lord, I’m feeling burdened, I need Your help!”
Learn from Me
“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” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus says we must learn from Him. What do we need to learn? First, that the character of God is humble. Humble meaning He has all the power to force His way, yet He doesn’t. Love is not proud or arrogant but lays down his life for the other. We must trust that God wants our best more than we do, and be willing to submit our ways (lay down our ways to take up His way)—and that’s a learning process!
God is humble and gentle! Gentle does not mean weak, but power under control. It means the harsh, accusing, condemning taskmaster in our heads is NOT the voice of God. So we must quiet our minds to listen for His gentle, guiding voice speaking to our minds. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says” Jesus would often say. We must develop spiritual ears that recognize the Spirit guiding our thoughts. We learn to hear by studying what God has revealed in the scriptures about his will and ways, because His Spirit will never guide us to go against His Word. Then we must quiet our minds to listen. So when I’m burdened, I let it trigger me to stop, admit I’m doing something wrong, ask for His help, and then quiet my mind to listen and learn.
Exchange Burdens with Me
“Take my yoke upon you…For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). Then I ask God to show me what’s mine and what’s His with this issue that’s burdening me. Say you’re burdened because of all the impossible deadlines you have to fulfill (notice the phrase “have to” may be an assumption God will teach you is not His). The burden comes not from what I “can” or “should” do today, the burden comes from taking God’s responsibility on my shoulders (like what I can’t control in the future – “What if I don’t get it all done?” “What if I get fired?” “What if, what if, what if?”—I can’t control any of that, only God knows and can supervise the future). What I can control is “what should I do today, and what should I do next?” Maybe the next right thing is to plan out today and this week—but then I must leave the future to God and do the next right thing, right now!
That’s how you exchange burdens. You take the heavy yoke of trying to control what only God can control (the future, other’s, all the “what ifs”), and you say, “God, show me the next right thing to do about this burden, and I’ll do it. I’m trusting You with all I can’t control knowing You promised if I “seek first Your will and ways all these other things will work out” (Matthew 6:33). You exchange God’s burden (responsibility that’s too heavy for you) for the “burden” (responsibility) He intended you to take—the much lighter—Unburdened Way.