Friday, 10 September 2010
Lighten the Load

"What do you have in that back pack? A lead safe?" I asked one of our students as she was leaving our afterschool program for the day. The bag was too heavy for me to lift, let alone a 10-year old.  "Just my whole desk," she giggled and happily handed the bag over to her grandmother. I shook my head . . . poor grandma. We joked about weight lifting and building upper body strength and out the door they went.


I see this scene repeated many times each day. When Mom or Dad or Grandma or Grandpa picks up his or her child or grandchild, they carry the heavy backpacks and lunchboxes and musical instruments. The child might carry out a craft or drawing made that afternoon. I know I did the same thing with my daughter when she was younger. In fact, I bought her a backpack with wheels so that neither of us would have to carry that heavy bag. Now that she is older (and nearly as tall as me), she has no trouble carrying her things.


It's second nature for parents to help their children. We love them and want to protect them. We want the best for them. If they are carrying a heavy load, we're going to do everything we can to lighten that load. It might start with carrying their heavy backpacks, but it is a lifelong commitment. We will always be looking out for them and doing what we can to help.


We can find that same help when we surrender our burdens to the Lord. A burden is defined as a load or obligation. For example, being a parent isn't easy. It's a burden we happily take on, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. We need a little help now and then from friends and relatives. But they can't be with us all the time.


Matthew 11:28-30

"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."


Are you carrying what seems like the weight of the world on your shoulders? Jesus said that we could hand those burdens over to Him and rest. Just like the grandma who carried her granddaughter's heavy backpack, our Lord will carry our burdens for us, if we allow Him.


My daughter has always helped me carry in groceries. When she was little, she carried the smaller, lighter items - bread, boxed dry goods, paper products. I carried the heavier bags - cans, milk, pet foods. As she is getting older and stronger, she is starting to carry the heavier items. And I am letting her. During the time that I carried the heavier items, she grew and matured and became stronger. I know she can handle more things now than she could when she was a young child. But if she ever comes across something too heavy or overwhelming, she knows that her dad and I are here to do everything we can to help her. She trusts us and knows that we only want the best for her. That's how the Lord feels about you and your burdens. He wants you to rest and grow and become stronger in Him.




by Mary Stevenson


One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you."




Posted on 09/10/2010 5:03 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 3 September 2010
The Secret to a Low-Anxiety Life

I hate to admit it, but I am a bit of a worrier. That's something that people who know me might not realize. I think most of my friends see me as someone who is organized, prepared and even-tempered. I don't get excited until there is really something to get excited about. (But when I do get excited, look out!) However, beneath the calm exterior is a mind that often ponders the worst case scenarios and is anxious about the things of daily life. With God's help, my problem with worrying has gotten much better over the years.


1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.


A fisherman casts his line into the water and waits for a fish to take the bait. When he gets a bite, he reels his line back in. A lot of Christians cast their cares like they are fisherman. They cast them upon the Lord, and instead of letting them go, they reel them back in.


Why can't we let those worries go? It could be that our faith is weak and we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. After all, if we know who God is and believe in His promises, then we should be able to trust Him with our problems. Trusting is hard, especially if you have been betrayed by others. But as you grow closer in your relationship with God, you will be able to trust Him more and more. He doesn't lie or change his mind. He promised He would never leave you or forsake you.


Or perhaps we hold on to those worries out of habit. We are so used to taking care of everybody and everything that it has become second nature to worry about it all. If we didn't have to worry about it all, what would we do with ourselves? We wouldn't know how to act if we could relax and actually enjoy life. Other people seem to walk around without a care in the world. We worriers think they are either lazy, crazy or in denial. But the truth is they have learned the secret to a low-anxiety life.


It really isn't a secret. In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus tells us that worry is a waste of time. He uses birds to illustrate the concept that it is needless to worry about having the necessities of life. Birds don't plant or reap, but God provides the food they need. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" He asks (Matthew 6:27).


Matthew 6:28-32

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."


In the Message version, the writers express the scriptures this way:

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never even seen-don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works."


I especially like the line "to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving." When we worry, we usually are thinking about what we need. We need more money or a better job or material things. We want healing for ourselves or a loved one. We want to know that our loved ones are safe and not in harm's way. We are worrying about getting something done. When we are in "gimme" mode, we aren't in a position to receive the blessings and peace that God has for us.


You all know I love the show, "Clean House." Miss Niecy, the host, is always telling those pack rat homeowners that if they let go of their old, useless junk, she will gift them something new and wonderful that they actually need. They are usually holding on with a tight fist. She points out that if they will open their hand and let go, their open hand will be ready to receive. That's how we need to be with our worries. Worries are really useless junk. If we can truly let them go and give them over to God and not try to hold on to them, then He will take care of them. He will bless us with what we need and more.


Matthew 6:33-34

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


One of Scarlett O'Hara's famous lines was, "Tomorrow is another day." Tomorrow might not even come, so why carry the weight of the world on your shoulders today? If Jesus has said the worrying is pointless, then why do it? If we will seek God and seek to live the life He has called us to, then we can trust that everything else will fall into place. Does that mean that we don't have to care about anything or work for anything? Of course not. God doesn't want a bunch of slackers. He just wants to you to do your best and let Him take care of the rest. (Ephesians 6:13 . . . and after you have done everything, to stand.)


Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


I now can recognize when worry is starting to creep in and take over. The heart races a little faster. My mind starts to dwell on something and I can't concentrate on other matters at hand. I start to imagine what might happen if something isn't taken care of properly or quickly.  That's when I stop myself. I ask God to forgive me for worrying and then I say, "Okay, God. I am giving this to you. I know that you are working for my good." Sometimes it's a daily conversation (or even hourly), but I don't give up. I keep on casting my cares upon Him, because I know He cares for me.



The Serenity Prayer


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Posted on 09/03/2010 6:22 AM by Susan Nelson
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