I took weight lifting when I was in high school and one of the most effective exercises to whip you into great shape is the beloved squat. You place weights on each side of the bar, step up to the squat rack, get your stance ready, lift the weight onto your shoulders, and squat into a seated position to execute the exercise. It requires many muscles to work together to get the job done, and many times the goal is to lift as much weight as your body can physically handle. Once the exercise is complete and the bar is placed back in the holders, the sense of relief that comes with the weight being lifted off your shoulders is immediate and you almost feel like you're floating.
Do you ever feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? I know that I sure do. I want everything and everyone to be happy and harmonious, and for things to go perfectly all the time. I often feel responsible for not only my life, but also the lives of others. But Jesus never intended us to live this way. He says his "yoke is easy and his burden is light." His yoke is easy because the only requirement he has is that we have faith and trust in him. We just need to accept the invitation to walk in the freedom he promises. We do not have to earn or work for salvation, because it is by grace we have been saved. He already took care of the heavy lifting when he died on the cross for all of our sins and rose again! Trying to operate out of our own effort and strength leads to complete exhaustion-- that's why he promises us rest for our souls when we lay our worries down at his feet. Once we cast all our cares on him, we get to breathe easy and exhale, much like the feeling after racking the weights after a taxing workout.
The Message version of the Bible captures the essence of this scripture beautifully:
"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
Let us never forget that Jesus carried the cross that paid the price for our freedom on His shoulders all the way to Calvary after being beaten and scourged, so he most certainly can carry your burdens too. When you are feeling overwhelmed and responsible for the stresses of life, remember that God loves you so much that He sent His one and only Son for you, and his desire is for you to live freely and lightly.
-Are there any burdens you are carrying right now that you need to cast onto the Lord? Finances? Relationships? Control? Fear? People pleasing?
- How would you feel if these burdens were lifted from your shoulders?
- How would your life look different than it does right now?
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to save us so that we may live free. If there are any burdens or worries that have been stealing our joy or weighing us down I ask that you would remove them in the name of Jesus. May we fully rely on You and your strength to take away any fears or burdens that we were never meant to carry in the first place. We love you so much God, and we pray all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen!