Greetings in the name of Jesus who carries our burdens and gives us rest.
I am a bit of a rock collector. As a child I would spent endless hours smashing rocks to see what was inside. White quartz was my favourite kind of rock. Over the years my rock collection has grown. My house is full of them! Each rock reminds me of a special place, a fun adventure or beautiful moment.
I come by this obsession honestly. My dad has an even bigger collection than I do! It wasn’t unusual for him to find an interesting stone at the top of a mountain peak where he would pick it up and pack it down. Sometimes the stones were small, more often they were pretty hefty! Walking a few steps behind, I would watch my dad struggle to carry it; shifting it from his hands to his hips, then up on his shoulder. He obviously felt that this intense effort was worth it; another great find to add to his collection. Today, I am still following in his footsteps.
Consider, if every worry that you are carrying was a rock, how heavy would your backpack be right now? Whether we are carrying around a dozen small worries or just struggling with one massive concern, the result is the same. It wears us down. We know God invites us to let go of our worries and to travel lightly but for some reason it is hard for us to lay our burden down.
Bring to mind the worries you are carrying right now. Then slowly read the passage below three times. Notice which word or phrase jumps out at you. As you read it, are there any images or pictures that come to your mind? What does this passage have to say to you about your own life right now? How do you feel as you read it; what emotions are arising?
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life. Philippians 4:6,7 (Message)
I think the Apostle Paul was on to something. Our lives will never be free from worries but spiritual practices like petition and praise can transform our worries into prayer.
Prayer is not just sitting with your eyes closed and your hands clasped. According to Richard Rohr, sometimes prayer “is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, and praising God until we ourselves are an act of praise.”
I have come to realize, now more than ever, that if I am going to manage all the heavy stress and strain of this pandemic, I am going to need some serious spiritual practices to carry me through the year.
Spiritual practices can be anything that connects you to God: walking or sitting in nature; writing down what you are grateful for; listening to inspiring music; colour in an adult colouring book (yes, I said adult) or simply read scripture slowly like described above. Even something wild like axe throwing (in a safe way of course) can be a spiritual discipline; as you literally “let go” of the axe, you release the worries that are weighing you down. Maybe our church should set up a target or two? J
Masks; Covid tests; crowded classrooms, isolation, change, second waves, economic strain, global crisis and more Zoom! What spiritual practices will help to settle you down and bring you to a better sense of God’s wholeness?
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We don’t need to do the heavy lifting. Worries are really not worth collecting.
Come to me, all you that are weary.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Tanya