Tuesday, July 19, 2016
I was at an awkward age, fourteen years old, and struggling to survive what seemed like an earth shattering let down. Just about the time that I was old enough to be able to “officially” participate in the youth group at our church, my father resigned as pastor.
Up until that time I’d only been included as, well . . . the pastor’s kid. Always present, but not accounted for and certainly not included in the awesome stuff like break dance battles on Wednesday night or discipleship weekends.
Instead, one day I found myself sitting in the break room of a Christian counselors office while my parents sought help to understand the aftermath of my father’s resignation. My dad, who was always best at finding colorful expressions to describe complex emotions, called his current state of being, “church residue: what’s left under the wheels when the big church machine rolls by.” When people asked him where he’d go next, what he planned to do he’d reply, “Well . . . I’ll let you know as soon as I lose the license plate mark on my forehead from where the truck hit me.”
He was hurting, our whole family was hurting and we were experiencing all the emotions that accompany loss: Rejection, sadness, anger, grief, confusion, frustration etc.
I’m sure when my parents sought counseling they expected to have a light bulb moment. Especially since these counselors specialized in helping ministers families. I don’t know what all was said, but I asked my mom when we got back in the car. I too was hoping for answers, some word of wisdom to cut through the cloud hanging over our family.
Dad was quiet, but Mom turned around from the front seat and said, “They read a verse to us from the Bible, out of Matthew.” Then she looked it up, because she’s a pastors wife and had a NKJV Bible at the ready.
She read to me, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt. 11:28-29)
Then she explained, “The counselor read this verse and explained that it just might be that we’re carrying a burden that God never intended for us to carry. When we are obeying God in the work He’s created for us to do, and the work He’s created us for, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.”
Four years later I was standing on the second floor of an old building in downtown Amarillo, Texas. Our whole family was present and wearing dirty work clothes, the sun was shining through newly uncovered art deco style arch windows from 1927 that had been covered over with plaster in the ‘70’s. It was my job to pick up the debris and carry it out to the dumpster while my brothers and dad tore away at the rock. Every time we tore pieces away, we discovered new treasure.
While the old building was being restored, so was my father’s health. He had a new liver after years of near death experiences with his old one. With his new lease on life, my father lead our family into a new season of ministry. We moved downtown, started renovating an old building, and preaching the Gospel to the poor from the heart of the city.
He was free. Every one of us, for the first time in the ministry, felt what it means to bear a light burden, one designed for us by the God who created and purposed us. We were yoked up and empowered by the Holy Spirit who sent blessing after blessing through the doors of that old building. The license plate mark on Dad’s forehead was replaced by a goofy, unrelenting smile. He had faced death and new life. We were all ready to truly walk by faith.
As a young adult, I had learned an invaluable lesson. There is freedom in following Jesus, there is joy in living out your calling. And even though the work is difficult and you’re getting your hands dirty, it’s easy to bear. A life lived in true obedience to the God who made you is the most fruitful and satisfying life you can live!
Recently, I found myself at the feet of Jesus, in a weary place. I was heavy laden and broken hearted at the fact that despite all my best efforts, what I was trying to accomplish was just not happening. The weight of it all felt unbearable.
So I came out from under the yoke and laid the burden down. Fully trusting Jesus with all the questions in my heart about what would happen next. When I came to the feet of Jesus I didn’t find scorn or disappointment, I found compassion. I found gentleness, wisdom and on the other side – freedom. Freedom to continue walking in His purpose for my life and to hopefully continue to bear good fruit.
If you are weary today, I pray you will come to Jesus. You may need to lay a burden down, He may fit you with a new one. Either way, I promise, that after meeting with Jesus “. . . you will go out with joy and be lead forth with peace.”