Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Whose Burden?

"I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do."
John 17:4, HCSB

When The List becomes a burden and overwhelms (as it will more frequently as the year hastens toward its conclusion), it helps me to pause, to step back, to look up, to evaluate:
Whose burden is this?
These items on the list, these burdens in my pack, are they really God's portion for me for this day? Or have I added them out of my own ambition and proud drivenness to achieve? Or have others' expectations added them to my pack? Or is that pressure I feel the world system trying to squeeze me into its mold? Or am I simply trying to carry the whole week's load at once, as is my wont?

Have I left room for put delight in God and His Word on the list before everything else?

In truth, I'm not very good at this. It's easy to overwhelm myself with good plans and projects that are not my assignment, at least not right now. My ideas almost always exceed my resources.

Today, though, or at least this moment, my pack is lighter for having stopped to discern. Some things are set aside for tomorrow; some, perhaps indefinitely. On another day, the remaining burden may still be too heavy for my shoulders. In either case, in the midst of the day's duties I may rest in the confidence that Jesus is my yokefellow and that God's grace is sufficient, somehow, for the carrying of His appointed load for this day. The impossible can become possible through His strength, and through the attempt He is glorified and my trust grows stronger. When my best efforts fall short, I can rest in His unchanging acceptance and continuing labors while I sleep.

"Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34, HCSB

These words from Anselm (1033-1109) humble and encourage me in practicing trust and rest today:
Come now, little man,
turn aside for a while from your daily employment,
escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts.
Put aside your weighty cares,
let your burdensome distractions wait,
free yourself awhile for God
and rest awhile in him (quoted in D. Jeffrey Bingham, Pocket History of the Church, 87).
Alternately, here is David's expression of the same invitation:
Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, 
my stronghold; I will not be shaken (Psalm 62:5-6, HCSB).
Dear friend, may you find the rest Jesus offers today, no matter what you find in your pack and on your list. Busy or quiet, may God fill your heart with His peace and security.

P.S. My lovely friend Amy is hosting a tea giveaway at her blog in honor of her first blogging anniversary. If you like tea as we of Wits' End do, won't you bless her by stopping by to leave an encouraging comment? If you do so by Sunday at 4 pm (US CST), you might be the one blessed with her generous gift.


  1. good words! and i loved the opening passage from Anselm's Proslogion. dunno if you've read the Proslogion, but in case you haven't, i highly recommend it: it's at once a beautiful extended prayer, and a classic of philosophical theology.

    may your week be filled with nothing less and nothing more than God's portion for you...

  2. thank you, kind sir. actually, i have not read any entire works of Anselm (shame on me!), but the little history to which i linked quotes several substantial passages and left me wanting more. recommendation appreciated.

    thank you for the blessing. may the same hold true for you.

  3. This is wonderful, and a timely reminder as the holidays approach. I began something last year that literally transformed my Christmas experience. I withdrew from the world's craziness, I placed no demands on myself, shrunk the gift list significantly (and thus the time), and crafted a homemade Advent calendar to celebrate each day with my girls. No Christmas holiday before had held such peace, light, and no stress. I hope to do the same this year as we celebrate using a Jesse tree (and for Thanksgiving as we decorate our gratitude tree). The verses that you included are so powerful and comforting. I particularly love King David's words and this Psalm is one for the Bible notebook!

  4. Your burden is lighter "for having stopped to discern." I'm glad I stopped in to read your blog today. It helped me to "stop and discern" as well. I had just replied to a friend at church who said she was so overwhelmed ...."Me too." I will have to encourage her to stop by and read your words as well. Thank you.

  5. We are free indeed. Praise Him! I love Matt. 11:28-30 in the Message: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

  6. I'm just thinking about you today, wondering how you are feeling, lifting you in prayer.

  7. Hm, you're making me rethink what I was just about to go out and do---work on one of those ambitious projects wherein "my ideas [probably] exceed my resources"! And Husband even said he can give me good help tomorrow, but not today... I've been fighting procrastination successfully this week and didn't want to "put off" anything till "tomorrow," but this really isn't a job God (or anybody else) gave me---only myself.
    Thank you for the wise and timely words you put here. I wish I could get a whole lot of people I know to read and consider them... but I'm afraid they're all "too busy" with their lists! The sickness of our time?

  8. That sounds like a wonderful enrichment of your family's holiday devotion. Several years, including 2010, physical limitations have limited my Christmas commitments. There are things I miss when that happens, but the rush and stress are not among them. Thank you for your kind words and contribution to the conversation. Grace be with you today.

  9. Thanks for your kind words. It's a lesson I'm continually relearning. I'm glad God used my "homework" to encourage you, too.

  10. "The unforced rhythms of grace" - I could just camp out on that phrase a good long while. Thanks for sharing this.

    Thank you especially for your prayers. I'm feeling pretty well today so far. My house helper is here, and her visits always give me a boost. A clean house doesn't hurt, either. :) Your thoughtfulness blesses me. How are you?

  11. "My ideas almost always exceed my resources..." How true!!! It is in our humility to lay aside our plans and follow His that the burden becomes light. I'm so thankful for His ability to meet us where we are at...when we need Him most. Lifting you up today, dear one.

  12. It's a tricky balance, isn't it, between procrastination and overdoing? Husbands can be so helpful in the discernment; mine also helps me balance and pace myself.

    Certainly "too busy" is epidemic in our time and culture, but perhaps it's more broadly a human ailment and not only our time and place. "Busy" feels important, and "restful" can feel insignificant, so that "too busy" almost becomes a boast disguised as a complaint. But maybe that's just me...

    You were in my prayers this morning. Grace to you in Christ today, Sylvia.

  13. "Our humility to lay aside our plans" - you've hit the nail on the head there, I think. Yes, He can meet us right at the place of our need. Thank you for your prayers. Returning them to God for you, lovely Shannon.

  14. You make me smile. Just wanted to remind you today how strong you are...


  15. Thank you for saying so. The smiles are shared.

  16. Thanks for stopping by...I am so sorry to hear you have those years I had(was forced) to learn to let go of things that were not mine to carry...the gift in the thorn...letting go...learning to rest...finding God's need for performance to die...hard,hard years...but oh the treasures I carry with me...
    Blessings to you as you journey with Him...

  17. Yes, I think you've discerned it: "almost... a boast disguised as a complaint." Good stuff.
    And thanks so much for prayers. Been praying for you, too.

  18. The Lord is good. We are well. Lots of BIG POTS to stir. Details necessarily vague at the moment. Prayers appreciated for wisdom in BIG upcoming decisions.

  19. Ah, yes. Perfect timing, my Friend. As I'm coming out of my silence from these past weeks, I am in great need of determining which burdens to pick up again and which to leave right on the floor where I dropped them weeks ago. Thank you so much for this.

  20. I can, and do let, my own ambition or other's expectations get added to my list. And too often I walk as one overwhelmed. "Jesus is my yokefellow"-- I need to remember that phrase-- only then can it seem possible through the difficult or impossible. "free yourself awhile for God..."-- yes it is my wont to not free myself. I love those verses from Psalms above- I refer to those particular ones on a fairly regularly basis. :) Your words carry such strength.

  21. Oh Christina! I seem to leave blogging in the fullness of the week sometimes, and I missed this. Thank you for sharing about the tea giveaway:) More than that, thank you for sharing these thoughts. I was reading to the girls in Matthew today about the lady who just touched the cloak of Jesus believing that could heal her, and He did. Honestly, my personal Bible time had been dry this morning. My LIST was knocking on my mind, interfering with my focus and joy and knowledge that what I want and and need most is to touch His cloak during that sacred time. So though I prefer to read these posts in a timely manner, I see God's timing to show me tonight when my heart had the eyes to see.

  22. Thank you for your witness to the treasures. Blessings back to you, new friend.

  23. It's a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment need for me. May God grant you all the wisdom you need.

  24. We all do, I think. Thank you for your thoughtful, kind comment. Grace to you in Jesus.

  25. May the Lord enrich your Bible time and give you a strong, gentle sense of His presence. Next time you sit before Him, may you somehow know the tassels of His garment have brushed your hand.


Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.