Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Bearing Burdens

I got to spend last Friday and Friday night at the Teen Retreat. Dana divided the group into smaller groups of three, gave each group a burlap sack and told them to go find something heavy and put it in the sack. When they returned, they learned that someone in the group had to bear the burden (at meals, sleeping, bathing, playing, etc.). The groups figured out that they could share the burden among themselves, and most made a plan for who would bear the burden at a particular time.
Saturday morning, I was walking toward our van to put my stuff in it, when I saw one of the young ladies in our group bearing her burden. Her group had picked out what was at least the most awkward to carry burden if not the heaviest. This young lady was carrying a burlap sack weighted with a stump and a six-foot wooden fence post. Dana was walking by her the moment I spotted her, and he said, “Want some help?”
“Nope!” she quickly responded.
Dana’s lesson plan hit me instantly. I don’t know whether the young lady was embarrassed to allow someone to help her, or if she was determined to “do her duty” by carrying her burden, or if she thought at the moment that it wouldn’t be fair if someone else had to carry her burden. She declined the help that was genuinely offered.
After I loaded my stuff, I turned toward the kitchen for the great breakfast to come. The young lady was struggling more by now. She had reached the edge of the wooden swing bridge that is the hallmark of Lariat Creek. She looked pretty worried – and pretty tired.
I asked the same question Dana asked, “Want some help?”
Now her embarrassment was smaller than her burden. Now her sense of duty was outweighed by the burden in her bag. Now she wondered whether fairness was really all that urgent of an issue.
“Yeah,” she said.
She handed me her burden that I had the energy to carry. We walked across the bridge together, talking. When we got across the bridge, she said, “I can carry it now. I just needed some help getting across the bridge.”
I said, “OK. Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she responded. As I walked on ahead to the kitchen, she said, “Thanks.”


1. Some things are loads, others are burdens – you tell the difference by the weight of them on your heart.
2. Burdens are meant to be shared in the Christian Community. When someone is willing (and someone always is) share yours.
3. When you carry someone’s burden, usually you’ll carry it just long enough to get them over a hard spot. Don’t be afraid to offer help.
4. Jesus bore the heaviest of all burdens for us. Don’t turn down his offer to take your sins away.

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