Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Take a Load Off Fanny....

Come all you broken, come all you helpless, bring your troubles - come lay 'em down 

Our eccentric Maggie (2 and a half) loves her purse, her doll, our cell phones, her bag of rocks, her juice cup and her blanket just to name a few things and she wants to carry them all around with her.   She drops one thing, bends over to pick it up and drops something else.   Watching her manage her desire to carry prized possessions makes us laugh but also provides us an opportunity to teach her.   The other day I tried.

Me: "Sweetheart, you can't carry everything.   You won't be able to use your arms to do anything else.   Why don't you put everything right here and choose one thing to carry?  Then later you can grab something else."

Maggie: "Nooooooo.  I want it to carry it alllllllllll!"

Me: "Suit yourself Maggie but it's just impossible for you to carry it all!"

She walked off in to the other room leaving a trail of things behind her only to stop momentarily to consider what item she should turn back for.

I couldn't help but think of Steve Martin's over-the-top character Nathan Johnson in The Jerk who comes from nothing, makes millions and then loses it all again.   On the way back down, while being stripped of everything in a lawsuit, he pathetically grabs at each thing he sees in his foreclosed mansion saying, "and this thermos, this is all I need....except for this chair.   This chair and this thermos - that's all I need.....except for this fan.  This chair, this thermos and this fan - that's all I need....except...."

You get the picture.  Everything he saw he tried to carry with him.    This fool believed that he knew all he needed and that each item could bring him wholeness and happiness.   This is so often sad but true of us.   Though we be weary and burdened we grasp at everything except that which will really give us rest and true satisfaction.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
- Matthew 11:29-30

The Ideal

Jesus taught His disciples that the ways of the world were oppressive and impossible for the human soul to bear.   Keeping the rules, keeping up with "The Joneses'", even keeping yourself happy eventually destroys hope as exhaustion leads to desperation which leads to foolish choices which, ironically, lead us to exactly the opposite condition we started out to achieve.  But Jesus rescues us from our seemingly endless and painfully difficult game of serving self.

When I try to carry my own righteousness I either become proud thinking so highly of my "righteous achievements" that I'm blind to my own sin or I become ashamed of my inability to do the right thing and focus on all my faults and shortcomings becoming blind to the power of God in my life.   Either way my righteousness is useless to God and I'm a blind man searching in the dark.  (Is. 64:6)  When there is the truth of God's word staring me in the face, "there is no one righteous, not even one" (Rom. 3:10).

When I try to keep up with The Joneses I find that coveting leads me to the doorstep of spiritual death.  It's then that I find myself lost seeking buying power (read money) instead of God's power (read faith).  Jesus taught that "No man can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (Mat. 6:24).  When I focus on what others have, I'm instantly aware of what I do not have or how what I have does or does not measure up.   At this point I become blind again consciously or sub-consciously despising God for what He has not done in my life and consequently,  I become a slave to the almighty dollar in an attempt to purchase the momentary desires of my unbelieving heart.  

For many years I did "hard time" laboring under the false assumption that I was in charge of my happiness.   But believing that I've got to stay happy all the time denies Solomon's wise teachings that there is an appointed time for everything.  A time to weep and a time to laugh (Ecc. 3:1,4).   Struggling to keep ourselves happy denies that there's an ordained process of pain, suffering, healing and rejoicing which leads to a deeper faith in the creator of us all.   As I actively engage in that process I place myself in the hands of Him who suffered that I might no longer  suffer under the oppressive yolk of "my happiness" but might find in Jesus a joy that supersedes my darkest hours and a peace amidst life's uncertain circumstances.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 
- Isaiah 26:3

Lately I heard someone say that "if self-help books really helped anybody they'd never have to print another one".  Our righteousness is not the goal, our possessions are not the goal, our happiness is not the goal.   His Glory is the goal and in order to achieve that He's changing the world one heart at a time by His grace.  Having given Himself up for us that we might always have Him within us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. - Heb. 10:19-23
 
The Reality...ouch!

I believe that Maggie will slowly begin to understand that there is only so much she can carry.   Every adult is just a child unfolded and we, like Maggie, need to understand our limits knowing what we can carry and what we quite simply cannot carry on our own.  Praise God that the author and perfecter of our salvation (Heb. 12:2) has freed us and declared once and for all on the cross "put the load right on me"......




Blessings,
matt

This Week 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   The Obedience Option -  Chap. 2
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* Saturday - The Magills are keynote speakers and entertainers for "The Super Legit Sure Enough Shin Dig" at The Crossbrand Cowboy Church.  It will be a state-wide gathering of youth who'll come for fun, teaching, a rodeo and a concert with The Magills at the end of the day.   Please pray for open minds and fertile hearts at this event.   Most of these kids are really on the fringe of society coming from broken homes at best and totally abusive situations at worst.  We all need Jesus - pray that these kids would come to realize it sooner than later!

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1 comment:

  1. Loving the blog & love you guys! Good word today.

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