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What Is Not Mine to Carry?

My shoulder started to hurt the day our kids went back to school after Thanksgiving break. I hadn’t done anything to injure it. Not even a round of pushups. It ached because I was taking the to-do list of the upcoming week and pretending that it wasn’t too much. It ached because of stress and worry. 

So I sat down to pray about this pain. I thought of Matthew 11:28, where Jesus invites us to come to him with our burdens and receive his rest. I prayed through my “burdens”—everything from finishing copy edits on To Be Made Well to making sure Marilee has concert attire for her school performance to ordering the Christmas cards and securing a guest for my podcast this month. I envisioned handing those burdens over to Jesus one by one. 

I pictured us walking along a dusty road and me giving him the large stones of obligations and responsibilities weighing me down. I asked him to carry them for me, carry them with me. 

But then I had a sense that the Spirit said back to me, “I won’t carry all of them.” Some of the burdens were ones that needed to be left at the side of the road. Some of the burdens were not mine to carry. And they weren’t God’s to carry either. 

Jesus promises to shoulder the burdens that we need to bear. He promises that we are never alone in them. And he invites us to come to him with each of our burdens, to learn what we can give to him, what we can carry together, and what we can leave by the side of the road.

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