Sometimes I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Maybe it’s because, as the stereotypical ‘oldest child in the family,’ I was born feeling overly responsible. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom who, like all moms, just wants to do what’s best for my kids. Maybe it’s because I’m a youth leader and want SO badly to see this next generation thrive. Or maybe it’s because I spend too much time reading my news app.
This weekend I had the great privilege of being part of a middle school retreat at an outdoor adventure center in Maryland. During the day on Saturday, students had the chance to participate in one of three options: the high ropes course, the giant swing, or the zip line.
At one point, when I was standing near the end of the ropes course, my friend Ashley, who was assisting students as they came through, was bouncing on the ‘bridge’ part of the course and leaning off the side of it. The students nervously waiting in line for their turn looked shocked and as Ashley walked back to ‘safety’, one of them said, “I can’t believe you did that! Weren’t you scared?”
“No way!” Ashley replied. “I’m not going to fall – this equipment is rated for over 5,000 lbs!”
If you’ve ever seen a high ropes course or similar adventure activity setup, you can understand the anxiety of the students as they waited. This course was high up in the trees and the only solid places to stand on were small platforms attached to trees at the junction of each wire tightrope. Yikes! However, as Ashley pointed out, they could absolutely trust that they were going to be completely safe and, in fact, experience a thrill like nothing they’d ever felt before!
1) A very trustworthy source – a trained and experienced adventure center employee – had assured them that this was safe.
2) As they stood waiting, they watched, with their own eyes, several other students safely complete the course.
3) Their harnesses, lanyards, and carabiners would keep them securely attached to the wires of this very securely constructed course. And as long as they kept one of their two carabiners attached at all times, it was impossible for them to fall.
The funny thing is that even after knowing, seeing and hearing all of that, when their turn came, they still moved very cautiously through the course, gripping the wires – or whatever else they could grab – as tightly as their hands would allow them.
They may have known that the equipment was trustworthy, they may have even believed that the equipment was trustworthy, they may have even told others that the equipment was trustworthy, but when it came down to it, unless they were willing to let go, step off and put their entire body weight in the care of that equipment, they didn’t truly trust it.
Trust, at its core, is simply a transfer of weight. When we receive Christ into our lives, we are transferring the weight of the spiritual consequences of our sin over to Him – trusting that His death and resurrection will be what holds us securely at peace with God for eternity. Then, once we have Him in our lives, we have the opportunity every moment to continue to transfer the weight of the burdens of this life onto His shoulders – because He can totally handle it.
Jesus said in 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.”
Taking on a ‘yoke’ doesn’t sound like rest, but He wasn’t saying this to add more burden to our lives. He was saying, “Put your own yoke down – stop trying to do this on your own! Attach yourself to Me – I’ll carry the weight!”
When Ashley told those students that the ropes course equipment could hold 5,000 lbs, she wasn’t kidding. The required “Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS)” for the equipment we were using is exactly that – 5,000 lbs. That’s more than 50 times their bodyweight! And the truth is that most equipment, when tested, doubles or even triples the required MBS.
When Jesus said His burden was light, He wasn’t kidding. Being God Himself in human flesh, He knew exactly how much weight God was capable of carrying. And He knew that even the combined burdens of every human being at every point in all of history would look to God like we look at a tiny feather. His power – and His ability to love and care for us as His people – is double, triple… infinitely greater than we can imagine!
Every day, in every situation, I have the choice to trust. I know from a very trusted source, the Bible, that God is trustworthy. I have seen others trust Him and come out safely on the other side. But when it comes down to it, I have a tendency to say that I’m trusting, to believe that I’m trusting, and even to tell others that I’m trusting – when the reality is that my hands are still tightly gripped on whatever I can find to make myself feel safe and secure. And until I transfer the weight, I’m just out here dragging my own yoke around, thinking I’m some sort of hero for being so ‘strong’.
The crazy thing is, when I do let go – when I step off that ledge and very intentionally shift the weight of the world, the weight of my world, into His care – it may be scary at first, but I always I experience a thrill unlike any other.