Nearly every afternoon, after I’ve picked her up from a full day of kindergarten, my daughter falls asleep in the car. We have to go one town over to pick up my son before returning home, so she has plenty of time to sink deep into slumber. Which means that, once we are finally home, she is quite unhappy to be awoken. There is usually an attempt to ignore the stopped car and my insistent voice. She’ll put her head to the side, eyes still closed, and would probably fall asleep again if I’d let her. But I unbuckle the seat belt and shake her gently, reminding her that we have to go inside if she wants a snack and time to play before homework.
Get your backpack, I tell her, when she finally slides out of her seat.
And then, every time, she slides it onto her back and declares: It’s too heavy! I can’t walk! I’m too tired! Carry me!
So with the bright pink and white Hello Kitty backpack slung over her shoulders, she throws her arms around my neck and I scoop her up into my arms. A few afternoons ago, she smiled as she rested her head on my shoulder and said: I carry my backpack and you carry me!
And her words were mirrors, reflecting a truth I needed to remember – even while we are called to pick up our crosses, even while we sometimes live with problems and the weight of our particular lives – we have a God who holds us firmly in His arms, burdens and all.
We do get tired, though, don’t we? Even the good things we are busy doing can begin to wear us out after a while if we are drawing our abilities and strength from our own selves, forgetting to let God restore us with His Spirit…and if we are in a time of pain or fear, it can feel like our joy and strength have drained totally away, leaving us exhausted and wanting to just be left alone. We want to close our eyes to whatever comes next because it seems like we just cannot do it. Our shoulders are caving in from the weight of carrying it all and our legs are giving out, too weak to move another step.
And this is when it is time to say to our Father: I can’t do this on my own…this life is too heavy for me. I need Your help. Like Kailey, we can cry it out: Carry me!
Because the same Savior who calls us to carry our cross is the same Savior who says: Cast all your cares upon Me. This is not a contradiction but a beautiful mystery of grace: the work He has called us to do, the responsibilities entrusted to us, the hard times we are asked to endure – we must do all these things with our whole heart and everything within us…but all the while, He is our very present help. He gives us fresh strength. He gives us joy. He gives us His power…2 Peter 1:3 says that He gives us everything we need to live the Godly lives to which He has called us. So in our weakness, we don’t give up – because He comes through and He is strong in us and for us. When He carried the Cross to Calvary, didn’t He bear all of that weight of the broken world because we could not carry it on our own? Doesn’t He still stretch out His arms for us, holding us and the heaviness of our hearts, so that we can find His yoke easy and His burden light?
We carry what we have been given, faithfully, and He carries us.
If you are weary and don’t feel able to budge another step, it’s time to remember that He is waiting to be your help and your source of strength. There is life ahead of you – a holy calling to live out His love – and so don’t stay put, eyes and ears closed to His beckoning. Reach out to Him and trust that He is able to keep you from falling. Even more than that, when we obey and trust Him, He carries us to the place we need to be: a place of purpose and abundant life, a place of fulfillment and restored hope. It takes talking to Him – surrendering control of what we are holding – and putting our faith in His promises to sustain us and to help us. The Message version of Isaiah 41:10 helps us to plainly hear God’s sure Word to us: Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
That makes me want to say with David, that poet-king – “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens…Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms.” (NIV&NLT)
We can rest in this way, with bold belief in His love and knowing that He will carry us all the way home.
“…you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born–
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”~Isaiah 46:3-4
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders…the eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms…He is your shield and helper.” ~from Deuteronomy 33