My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Weight of It All

     Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
     God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that HE LOVED US and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us." - 1 John 4:7-13

Seems that life has been pretty serious lately--not necessarily because of my own circumstances so much as the struggles of people I love. There's no pain or anguish deeper than knowing one of your own children are hurting or suffering somehow, especially when we can't be the heroic parents that make their hurts or fears go away. It was so much easier for Mom to "fix" their hurts and settle their fears when they were younger. Others whom I love greatly have experienced such deep deep sorrow and grief. Some are facing unbelievable struggles and mountains which seem insurmountable. Some have experienced horrible injustices and abuse, and there is no easy or quick remedy to fix all that has been shattered in their lives. Still others are lost, confused, overwhelmed, or just plain angry at what life has dealt them. This past week or so, it seems so many are crying out to God at once and my heart grieves for them. So often, their hurt touches mine, resonating with some of the cries of my own heart and opening old wounds. And sometimes their hurt touches my heart--not just because I've been where they are and I know what they suffer--but because I love them so deeply and I desperately want them to hang on to hope. So often, I take their burdens as my own. I won't apologize for that or be convinced to stop because we are instructed to carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6). But today is one of those days when I'm broken by the weight of it all--when my burdens and their burdens seem too heavy to bear.  My heart breaks when I feel their pain as if it were my own. There's so many hurts, so many fears, so many reasons to give up, but there's a greater reason to keep on-- to "continue to love." As we walk with each other through struggles and sorrows, we hold each other up so that none of us fall by the wayside. We cheer each other on so that no one is alone in their journey and each one knows that his or her life is precious. And as heavy as the burden seems sometimes, I know that I can't give up in what God has called me to simply because I love Him and I love these people with all of my heart. As hard as it is, I would never ask for a lesser task because I WANT to be with them through every circumstance so that they are not alone--I want them to know that their life matters. I am honored to share their burdens and humbled when they share mine.

As I fell on my face in my own weakness and poured out my heart to Him, I wondered how Jesus must have felt when He took our burdens on Himself so willingly that day on the cross. The weight of the world and its sin was on His shoulders. It must have seemed so unbearable as He cried, "Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit!" (Luke 23:46) I thought about the many times that He has taken and carried my own burdens however cumbersome, when He held me through dark nights and He grieved at my shed tears and even more at my unshed tears. I wondered at His brokenness when He became such a beautiful sacrifice for ME simply because of LOVE. Yet I know that He would do it all again if He had to because He loves that much--that completely. He WANTS to be with us through our joys, our sins, and our sorrows. Somehow knowing that He loves so deeply--to know that His heart breaks when we fall down and rejoices when we rise up--knowing it makes my burdens seem a little lighter and even strengthens me for whatever this next week holds. Whatever burdens I carry--whether they be mine or those carried for others--I don't carry them alone because He carries them with me. And when I think about the weight of it all, it's nothing compared to what He has carried for me in days past. He encourages me and gives me His faithful promise, "Don't give up! CONTINUE TO LOVE for I will never leave you or forsake you..." 

I came across Daniel's vision unexpectedly. I don't think I've ever read it before. Though I'm not quite certain I understand the whole story or why God brought me to it, I found hope and strength as if I were in Daniel's place and I found personal understanding in the idea of the  "messenger" whether that be a real person, a supernatural vision, a dream, or a word silently and privately spoken to the heart. I know how often God sends messengers to me to encourage and offer hope, even today so unexpectedly in an amazing woman named Latimer. (Thank you, dear sister!) And I know that sometimes I am so honored and blessed to be His messenger. But today, I needed to hear the words of Daniel's messenger...

   So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. T hen I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
    Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
     Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven...
   While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word.  Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak.  How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
    Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong! - Daniel 10:8-12, 15-19

As I read this and take His Word to heart today, my prayer becomes the same that Jesus cried when He bore the weight of the world, " My life is Yours, Father. Into Your hands I commit my spirit...' "

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