Tonight at our fellowship, the person sharing asked us to think about a verse or a passage of scripture that has served as a "life verse" in our own spiritual journeys. Thankfully I was near the end of the line, as nothing immediately came to mind. But as I listened to our friends share their verses, I knew exactly what I should share. And, I thought it might be good to share here, too.
If you have been in more than 3 to 4 conversations with me, you'll know that I'm passionate about issues of justice... you name it -- from genocides to human trafficking to orphans to poverty to safe working conditions in companies that make the junk we all love to buy at Wal-Mart, I'm always available for jumping on a "cause" bandwagon. I heart IJM. Though I've never marched for anything, I've been known to openly make my opinions (sometimes loudly) known when it comes to issues I think really matter. (Side note: Thank you, to all my dear friends, for your patience and kindness when I went through the stage of my life when I thought everyone had a moral responsibility to adopt an orphan.) I've studied the passages of scripture with "justice" in them more times than I can count, and my personal heroes are folks like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Anyway, this justice compulsion is is a big part of the reason I'm personally living where I am and doing what I'm doing. So, the first verse that jumped out at me as being my "life verse" is Micah 6:8.
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
I love that verse. But as soon as that verse came to mind, another one immediately surfaced. It is what I consider to be my personal counterpart for Micah 6:8. I can't separate the two. It's Matthew 11:28-30.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.
For me, the causes of justice begin to weigh heavily on my heart and soul. Orphaned children dying without a chance for surgery. The current war in the Congo. People dying because they don't have access to clean water, something I watch run down the drain as I enjoy a few extra minutes under a hot shower. I could go on and on. But I won't, because dwelling on these things makes me weary and heavy-laden because I end up trying to bear the weight of them all... Even though I know I can't stop the flood of injustice anymore than I can put out a wildfire with a watergun!
But in this passage in Matthew, Jesus tells me that He wants to give me rest.
His yoke is easy because He is the one pulling. His burden is light because He is the one carrying. When I carry only what He gives me to carry and pull only what I am meant to pull, I find rest for my soul.
I hate dancing, and I can't do it very well. I'm too uncoordinated. But I have this mental picture of Jesus wanting to dance with me. He does want (in the words of a great Hillsong tune) our hearts to be "broken by what breaks His heart," so at times He gives us a burden to carry. Maybe He's asking you to adopt. Maybe He's asking you to go on a short term trip to see what life far from your comfort zone is really like. Maybe He's asking you to give up some of your comforts so that someone else can have a basic necessity. The tune is playing and the steps are moving in a direction where you take on some of the burden.
But it doesn't stop there. We don't always bear the burden ourselves. He doesn't hand it to us and then walk off, leaving us on the dance floor awkwardly trying to figure out what we should do next. When the moment is right and the purpose has been served, the steps change, and we give the burden back to Him. He is the one who bears it, after all, and He never expects us to make it on our own.
Maybe it isn't justice for you. Maybe it is your children, or the election, or the salvation of the lost, or the economy, or something else entirely. But, something is probably weighing you down and making you weary... or at least it happens occasionally! Some things aren't of God and need to be surrendered entirely. (For example, I'm pretty sure God will still be sovereign regardless of whether our next president is Obama or McCain! And, maybe the economic disaster is showing you just how much your trust wasn't in God to begin with, but instead put into your stock portfolio, property appraisal, or job security.) But, some burdens are from God, and those are the ones that we need to accept when He asks us to, and let go of when the purpose has been served and He gently asks for them back.
Like I said earlier, I'm not a very good dancer, but I'm learning it is the only way I can truly live with joy, peace, and rest. I hope you are dancing!
The picture is of Hannah. For those who don't know, that's Jacob's little sister, who is, in her own words, a "beautiful dancer!"