““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.””
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
At the beginning of this year, Traci and I felt God telling us that he was going to take us to a new level of financial freedom. He gave us a simple directive on what our part was going to be in this season. What he told us to do was going to require faith for sure. We couldn’t see how it was going to be possible, but it was very simple. Not complicated. Not a 12 step plan involving amortization, annuities, and compound interest. Nothing that required lots of knowledge and hard work. Just a simple action step that required one thing…faith.
My mind went into overdrive. I latched onto what God said about financial freedom. I halfway remembered what our one action step was, and then I got super-spiritual and added a whole new level of pressure on myself to come up with the next great business idea that was going to change the world and make me a bajillionaire over night.
It’s interesting how, as I go through each day, I can miss the weight that is being slowly added to my back. Then suddenly, after weeks or even months of head down, nose to the grindstone living, I realize I’m carrying what feels like a herd of elephants on my back. Financial concerns, keeping up with friendships, the kids’ grades, the health of my family… It’s all resting squarely on my shoulders.
I’m starting to realize there is a common denominator every time this heaviness shows up. It comes when I start to be my own source. My source of strength, provision, health, etc…
I love this translation of such a beautiful piece of scripture. It perfectly diagnoses the condition I’m describing. Tired. Worn out. Burned out on religion. And that’s what it comes down to. Isn’t that what religion says?
Religion tells you that your ability to do good, is the key to your success. Your behavior is the only thing that qualifies you for anything good in this life. You’re behavior is definitely what disqualifies you from promotion, health, or freedom from addiction. I mean, let’s be honest, you know it’s your fault your kids are having trouble in school too. But hold on…
That’s kind of the opposite of what Jesus is telling us here. Jesus tells us to hand him our burdens in exchange for light, free life with him. So, how do I do that really? “Cast your cares on me,” sounds good right? But what in the world does that mean in my kids screaming, truck breaking-down, excruciatingly real life? Last time I checked, my cares were not something I could just pick up, throw heavenward, and wave goodbye to.
He never lays anything heavy or Ill-fitting on us. It starts with this litmus test. Is it heavy? Does it seem ill-fitting? If so, It’s just not from him. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He came to give us life and life more abundantly. And here’s a hint…He is not trying to trick us! His idea of kindness, gentleness, and goodness (a few of the fruit of HIS spirit) is not secretly intimidating, manipulating, and harsh. He really is Good!
So, now that we know it’s not from Him, what do we do with it? How do we “cast” it? It is simple. I didn’t say it is easy. It requires some faith, but it is not complicated. The only way to get the burden off our back and onto His is to shift our focus.
Try this…Next time you feel the heaviness start to rise, stop and check the thoughts that’ve been taking up residence in your mind. Are they pushing you toward a dependence on your own abilities, talents, and resources? If so, refuse to allow that line of thinking to take hold. Instead, begin to think on, and speak about the unending resources that the Father has made available to you through the work that Jesus did on the Cross. This is our access point to true abundant life. The Cross.
stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
Hebrews 12:1b-2 Amplified Bible
When we focus our eyes, our thoughts, our adoration on Jesus and the finished work of the cross, the weight falls off. The sin no longer entangles us. Thank you Jesus for the Cross! Thank you Jesus that you began the story of our faith, and we can look to you to finish it!