Saturday, February 21, 2015

Handling Life's Accumulation of Burdens

Snow has been a recreational event for the greater part of my life. In Texas an occasional snow was something to play in. In California snow is a two hour drive to tube. And in British Columbia a snow broke up the winter rains for a few days.

However, since living near Toronto, Ontario snow can accumulate a few feet after a big storm. It can stick around for a period of time.  While I have adjusted well to the conditions of Southern Ontario, I am quite bothered by the cycle of how snow gets pushed around in the neighborhoods throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

The cycle works like this. After shoveling the snow off our walks and driveway…
Image result for snow plow wall "driveway"
  • A snow plow comes down our street and pushes snow off the street forming at times a 3+foot wall of snow and ice.

  • A small snow plow pushes snow from the un-shoveled sidewalks onto my neatly shoveled walks. 

  • Then forms a 6 foot+ wall at the end of the sidewalk.

  • And when the snow finally melts people who have not kept their walks and driveways clean shovel snow back into the street.

As I see this cycle repeated with each storm, I can see that a lot of snow in the neighborhood gets pushed onto someone else to deal with.

Image result for snow plow wall "driveway"People push their preferences, mistakes, ideas, mediocre work, etc onto other people to deal with. How many times do we hear people say, “Not my problem!” Yet they have pushed their problems or preferences down the line for someone else to figure out. The problem with pushy people is that they do not understand that the problems they push down the line piles up on other people. This causes someone to bear extra burdens in their lives.

As Christians, God has called us to take personal and corporate responsibility for how we ought to carry our heavy loads of life.

My TIE: How are we to handle Life’s Heavy burdens?

1. Take Control of your Conduct

"Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.  For we are each responsible for our own conduct." (Gal. 6:4-5 NLT)

Paul admonishes believers to do what is right, be excellent with work and stop comparing ourselves with others. Just because we might live and work with people who are pushers does not mean we need to become a pusher as well. If we have been transformed because of the forgiving blood of Jesus, we are free to shed our pushiness and put on God’s Holiness. Our personal holiness is like a thermostat that we can control our climate by the way we are Response-Able to God’s truth.

Therefore, each of us must adjust our spiritual thermostat in order to respond to life in a way that allows God to strengthen and purify our lives through all of life’s circumstances.  We can take control of our holiness thermostat by accepting our present situation and asking God, “How do you want me to accomplish your mission through this?”  

2. Lighten Life’s Heavy Loads Together

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:2 NIV)

Everyone can get overwhelmed by the mess that the world pushes onto us. Each of us might be carrying different sized loads that are not equally weighted. However, there will be times and seasons for each of us that our personal loads are too much. Each of us has done all we can about the load then we find ourselves being crushed by life. 

Image result for church lighten loadsNo matter how heavy or light our personal loads are there is relief if as fellow Christians especially in our local churches if we place all of our loads down and lift them together to God.  We know people are being crushed by work, finances, lack of provisions, illnesses, difficult relational circumstances, etc. Yet, in our church life gives little attention in giving relief. Sadly, there is no relief offered even through the ministry of prayer and sincere words of concern. One of the unique opportunities to bless one another in our local churches is to share our life loads with prayer, concern and even lightening the burden if through available resources within the church.

I am reminded that in a recent heavy snow storm that my wife and I had done all we could in our shoveling. I was trying to knock down the large wall pushed onto us from the snow plow. My strength was waning with about 1/3 of the wall yet to conquer.  Then one of our congregation members showed up and together it took 15 minutes to remove the wall and place it into my yard. This late hour relief restored my energy.

3. Share the heavy Loads of Forgiveness

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:13 NIV)

Perhaps the heaviest burdens many people are carrying around in our churches are the many grievances we hold against others in our churches. These kind of burdens are incredibly sneaky in nature. We all can allow little arguments, hurts, and unloving actions by others accumulate into a heavy load by being silent. It is like how fluffy snowflakes can become so weighty that structures can be crushed by the accumulated weight. Inwardly, we hope these accumulated pains will go away or the people who offended us will get a clue for what they have caused us. However, by letting it be the more bitterness and anger builds up in our lives that we cannot stand to hear of good blessings happening to that person.

Instead of accumulation of grievances, we are commanded to share them with the responsible person and work a way to find forgiveness in a way that is modeled after a Great God who has forgiven all of our sins against Him. Working through our conflicts to find the forgiveness we all need is like one who shovels snow periodically through the storm so that when the storm is over, this person can better handle the circumstances that pushes their messy snow onto our sidewalks and driveways.

God has indeed given us a great grace in the opportunities to trust Him and His church to handle the accumulation of life's burdens!

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