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The Burden

The Burden

The Burden

I am not an equal opportunity pray-er.

I used to be. Years ago, when I would hear prayer requests, at church or elsewhere, I would do things like write them all down, and go through them one by one, even if I didn’t know the people, and I would say prayers for them, sentence-style.  Each one would get equal time and effort (which, I’m loathe to admit, wasn’t much). I’d often struggle to remember to pray for them, and the “end” of praying for a certain request came, most often, from that request simply being replaced by a new one.

Yeah, the equal opportunity prayers weren’t exactly the most effective.

Somewhere along the line (I can’t exactly pinpoint when), the Lord slowly changed my equal opportunity prayer style and replaced it with what I like to refer to as “The Burden”. This prayer style has only intensified since Dominic, and it has become, I have to say, quite inconvenient.

But infinitely more powerful.

I can no longer pray according to a list someone gives me. Sure, I can whip out a few quick prayers here and there for people or things to which I don’t necessarily have a connection, but that’s not what my intercessory prayer life is overall, anymore.

I pray, now, according to The Burden.

The Challenge

I don’t have to find prayer requests…the Lord gives them to me. Well, drops them on me, is more like it. I know I am to pray for someone or something because He gives me an overwhelming responsibility to intercede for a particular person or thing. And when He does, I can’t escape it. I feel the weight of it, and it presses on me, non-stop. I start feeling for whomever is the object of my burden – it’s almost as if I wear them, and their concerns, like a cloak. Not only do I not have to remember to pray; I can’t stop praying.

This happened last year with a friend’s marital problems. It happened with my Milk Baby’s mom. It happened with two friends with newborn babies that passed away. It has happened with the people in India with whom my sister has come in contact on her mission trip.

The burden, to be frank, is frustratingly obstructing to carrying on normal life.

1 Thessalonians  5:17 says, “Pray continually”. Years ago, I never really understood what that meant. How do you get things done if you are praying continually?

Well, I’ve learned, you don’t. At least, you don’t do the same things that you would have done otherwise. God gives you new things to do, and He focuses your world on His activities and plans and purposes, rather than your own.

During the day, I find myself having to text or Facebook people for whom I have The Burden. I find myself cooking meals (when I hate to cook) to bring to people. I find myself going back to the hospital that holds all kinds of difficult emotions from my experience with Dominic. I find myself writing blog articles about what God is doing instead of relaxing in front of the t.v. The Burden, this praying continually for and about specific requests the Lord places on my life, changes everything. It interferes with the me and inserts God. It compels me and overtakes me. The Burden causes my own plans to be eclipsed by the Lord’s.

Who, again, says that Christianity is easy?

The Burden tires me out. I eat, sleep, and breathe it day in and day out until the Lord takes it away. Or, I should more accurately say – I don’t sleep. It is becoming more and more common for the Lord to wake me up in the middle of the night to pray about someone or something, and for me to be unable to fall asleep because my heart is heavy and prayer is urgent. And you don’t want to know what I’m like when I don’t get my sleep.

The burden has made prayer so much more complex, too. Gone are the days when I could rattle off some uninvolved, “cover-all-the-bases” prayers. The burden has made me work and struggle and strain in communicating with the Father until I feel like He has shown me exactly what He wants me to pray. Specifics. I’ve learned that the Lord wants me to pray specifics. And, of course, to know the specifics takes time and investment and constant communication. I have to search Him and His word and His heart. I have to scour scripture until I find the words I knew He has given to me for the particular situation for which I’m praying. I have to engage with and share the pain of those for whom I have The Burden. And through it all, The Burden makes me feel like it’s happening to me.

It is exhausting.

I have to be honest and say that a lot of the time I don’t really like The Burden. It is hard. It is overwhelming. It is tiring. And it hurts. Much of the time I want to yell, “Lord, I have enough of my own burdens to carry! Stop giving me the burdens of other people and give me some more strength to deal with MINE!” And sometimes I just want to complain, “Just let me SLEEP, already!”

It’s incredible just how strong “self” can be.

The Benefits

But the longer the Lord gives me The Burden, the more I see another side of it, too.

Jesus said, “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.” (Matthew 11:29-30).

The other side of the burden is that, by carrying it, I get to experience Jesus. And His burden is light, and – by the way – really, really powerful.

It is, without a doubt, through The Burden that the Lord has changed my life. By intimately connecting me with particular people and situations He has planned specifically for me, He has displayed His power. I’ve seen His work in miraculous ways that continue to blow my mind. By carrying their burdens, I also get to experience personally the amazement and joy from seeing what God does in each situation. By praying the specifics that He shows me are in His name, in His will, I get to see John 14:13-15:

”And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

That makes the burden light. Very light, indeed.

But not only that – I get to be used.

Instead of being just me, intense, control-freak Rebecca clawing her way through life according to her own plan, I get to be the wire through which the Lord’s electricity flows. I get to have a purpose and a reason for being, and a little part in the making of things that are eternal. A little part of God-work and of eternity.

There is nothing better than being used by the Lord. It’s a rush – I imagine akin to that which a man in a parachute feels when he steps out of the plane and gets to fly through the air. There is crazy fear intertwined with trust and wild abandonment and excitement. And then, a phenomenal sense of fulfillment when you land safely at the destination He has planned for you.

So, for me, the choice seems to be: 1) Ignore The Burden and be both rested yet restless forever, living a life of mundane travailing on my own efforts or 2) Live The Burden, be both exhausted and inexhaustible from Jesus’ rest, and experience God Himself, His power, and His fulfillment.

I’m going with option #2. And just interjecting periodic naps into the whole deal.

Tired or not, I’m going to continue to accept it when the Lord gives me The Burden. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, because they bring me to Him. And they enable me to see Him do. The Burden = the experience of God’s power.

So I am going to wear The Burden on my back, like a parachute. Because, when it comes down to it, I want to be able to fly.

One Response to “The Burden”

  1. Cindy Herald says:

    Awesome article. Thank you for sharing. I have felt that way at times. You are a gifted writer.

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