One of the privileges I have working on the surgery floor of a children's hospital is to escort parents to recovery to see their child. Having walked with them through check-in, O.R. updates, and a post-surgical consult, it is particularly rewarding to lead the family back to the P.A.C.U. and to see the reaction on the patient's face when they are reunited.
Because of potential overnight stays, parents often tend to pack with a "we might need this" mentality. Hoping to get a little work done themselves while the child is having the procedure, a laptop and paperwork are frequently in hand as well. So you can imagine the scene when they are invited to go back to recovery. Scrambling to gather their belongings, parents anxiously contend with strollers, computer bags, backpacks, duffle bags, and every now and then, a suitcase. This is when I usually try to offer a compassionate, "May I carry that for you?" I usually then add with a warm smile, "I am happy to lift your burden for a while if I can."
Asking that question numerous times a day, I am always intrigued by the variety of answers I receive. They run the gamut of a grateful, "Sure, that would be wonderful," to an independent, "No thanks, I got it."
While I normally don't give these exchanges a second thought, a recent decline, however, really stuck with me. When I made the offer, this seasoned-pediatric-hospital-road-warrior mom replied, "Thank you, but I am used to it. We go everywhere with these bags." I wasn't sure if she thought I was insinuating that she was less than capable, but her tone made me wonder. Trying to ease any offense she may have taken, I empathetically said, "I am sorry. I guess all this comes with the territory." "It does," she graciously responded.
As I reflected on that exchange, I muttered an unfiltered thought to God, "I get it. I know that there is a myriad of reasons, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, why someone would decline... but still." Joining in the one-sided conversation, my persnickety flesh chimed in making a bit of a huffy, self-righteous, and dumbfounded point. "Why wouldn't you take someone up on their offer to carry your burden?"
As soon as that thought billowed out of the chimney of my brain, the Lord pointedly turned the question around as if holding up a mirror. With a kind and knowing grin, He responded. "I don't know, son. Why wouldn't you take Someone up on their offer to carry your burden?"
As I pondered both the reply and the intent of the One answering my question with a question, Scriptures began to come to mind. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows..." [Isaiah 53:4 NKJV]. "Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you" [I Peter 5:7 CEB] and "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens" [Psalm 68:19 NIV]. In the Voice translation, it read, "Blessed be the Lord who carries our heavy loads every day..." [VOICE].
While I felt no condemnation, I did sense a correctional invitation. You see, as much as I want our hospital guests to know that it is my pleasure to carry their baggage, so to speak, God all the more delights in carrying our "stuff." The Psalmist seems to have understood that when he exhorted, "Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - he'll carry your load, he'll help you out" [Psalm 55:22 MSG].
As I continued to sit with Him in reflection, the contrast in my life was both painful and poignant. He showed me that just like the frequent flyer mom whose identity was found in the familiarity of carrying heavy baggage, I too, am quick to decline grace because I am "used to it": Used to taking responsibility for things I shouldn't, used to carrying blame I needn't, and used to wearing a badge of self-recognized relational martyrdom for sacrifices I was never intended to make. And while God does not lower Himself to pout and whine because we do not take Him up on His offer, perhaps there is a Father-hearted longing that says, "Child, you don't have to carry that."
Perhaps as you have been reading, the Lord has brought to mind a backpack, a duffle bag, or even a suitcase that you have been carrying. And maybe like that mom, you "go everywhere with these bags," having become "used to it" because it's been there for so long. May I extend to you an invitation to make an exchange? Hear Jesus's question, "May I carry that for you?"
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads; you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.
Simply join your life with mine. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders - it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from me. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble in heart and humble in spirit, and easy to please.
When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. You will find refreshment and rest for your lives" [Hybrid of CEB, CEV, PHILLIPS, NCV, TPT, and VOICE translations].
And as you "come," "join," "take," and "learn," know that God's "measureless grace will strengthen you" [Isaiah 55:22 TPT]. Precious one, you don't have to carry that. It's time to let go and to receive His rest. As a dear friend says, "Let's watch and see what God will do." Indeed, "...He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you" [Ephesians 3:20 TPT]. Amen.
If you find yourself needing to sit and to process this blog a little, enjoy Come Unto Me by Terry MacAlmon and respond to God's invitation in song.
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