The Present

I was watching Kung Fu Panda with my Dad Saturday night and a quote referenced in the movie fit with something I felt God wanting to say: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift”. It’s a saying I’ve heard before, but when I heard it again the other night I knew it went with what God is saying about the New Year: that we be encouraged to lighten the load going into the next year. Get rid of the weights, lighten up, laugh, and leave the rest to Him.

We tend to take on so much and don’t seem to realize when it’s too much. So many errands, housework, jobs, then add in all the other outside tasks we take on and we can overload pretty quickly. We tend to take on much more than we can handle emotionally as well. I heard a recorded message on a radio station; this woman was thanking them for helping her to carry her heavy burdens. What? She actually thinks she’s supposed to be carrying around heavy burdens. That’s not a good place to be and God didn’t ask us to do that.

We take on emotional baggage we were never meant to carry, we take on conflicts we were not meant to carry, we take on relational issues, and we are so conditioned to keep packing more on that we even take on the problems of others thinking it’s helpful somehow. There are people in our lives that count on us being a drop-off location for their problems. They know we will listen and we will take up their cause for them. They pull up, dump a load of troubles on us, and drive off feeling better.

New Years is a time of resolutions.  Well, let’s resolve this year will be different! Time to shed the weights! Let this year be different by truly freeing ourselves, really drop the weights from around our lives, really resting in God’s care, really relying on His help, really seeking Him in all things, and let’s really live in the present of today. Not rushing by this day with “isn’t it Friday yet”, or “I’ll have time to talk God when things in my life aren’t so crazy.”  What are the burdens we carry?

I did some digging on the word Burden:
First burden I found was Guilt. Psalm 38:4 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” We take on pressure, guilt, shame, fear, which snowball into all sorts of other troubles when we do things we know are not God’s desire for us. Whatever causes us guilt – we must get rid of it. It’s not benefiting us or our relationship with God to keep doing it.

The second burden I found was “all these people”. People are needed in our lives, relationships are great, but when “all these people” are too heavy for us – it’s time to set boundaries, and take it to God. Numbers 11:14 “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.” As I said earlier, people like to unload, which means whoever they are unloading on will get overwhelmed if they don’t know what to do with it. We have someone to take all that stuff to, God! He is open 24/7 365 a year. Give it to God. He is way more able to handle the problems of “all these people” than we are.

I couldn’t help but include the whole chapter to the next burden reference. This chapter starts with reference to idols, images that the people worshiped. I won’t go into all the ways we worship things other than God, or all the things we place in higher regard than God – we’d be here a while, but let’s exam our hearts (me too) and see what’s true in our life, what we need to repent of. Whatever it may be, it’s a burden to us. It holds us back, holds us down, divides our love & attention, and it feeds the flesh making it stronger. If we are to grow in the Lord we must feed the Spirit in us, and starve the flesh. The chapter also gives us a glimpse of how God is there, how He helps, cares for our lives. There is no other like our God.
Isaiah 46
Gods of Babylon
1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden.[a] The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. 2 They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity. 3 “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. 4 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. 5 “With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? 6 Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. 7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles. 8 “Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. 12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. 13 I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.

God provides all we need, heals, listens, guides, protects, and sustains us. In Him is all that is needed for us and for others. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

God doesn’t want us to be worried, hurting, or fearful. Jesus made the way for us to have full access to God and all His provisions. His gift is for us to accept and open. It’s that easy! So, this New Year, let’s drop the weights, let’s let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, being thankful for His presence with us, His great help, and His amazing love.
Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Remembering where our help comes from and going to Him for that help, remembering that we were not meant to carry the burdens of this life all by our self.
Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Taking up the light burden of the Lord and laying down the heavy burdens of this life at the feet of Jesus and seeing what beauty He will create with the ashes.
Matthew 11:30
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He wants to remove our burdens, set us free, and see us soar high on the wings like eagles. We are free when we are in His will, living in vital union with Him, hearing His voice, and resting in His hands.
John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lighten up, let go and let God, rejoice for He is worthy of praise, thank Him. A grateful heart has no room for hauling burdens. I started this post with Kung Fu Panda – in that movie they talk about there being no secret ingredient to make someone great, they talk about the power of believing in oneself. Well, I would amend that – the secret ingredient to a burden free life is Jesus, and the power of believing in Him and His Word is limitless.
Another movie reference I would insert here would be Pollyanna – play the Glad Game! Whatever the situation, whatever the deal – look for a reason to be glad! 🙂 There always is one! Today is a present, a gift of life, open it and enjoy it. Tomorrow is in God’s hands. He will get you where you need to go.

As we are going into 2011, which has to do with the eyes, seers, a good thing to think on is: “A person’s outlook reveals their inner character. This is part of what Jesus meant when He said, “The eye is the light of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matt. 6:22-23

Let’s look out into the next day, the next year, to see the blessings of God. Let’s let go of the heavy stuff, lay it at Jesus feet. That will make today the present He intended, rather than the burden we won’t let go of!

Happy New Year! May the Peace of Christ dwell with you throughout the year!

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