The Heart of a Burden Bearer

In the movie series, Lord of the Rings, Frodo is the Ring Bearer and he is told by Galadriel, that to be a Ring Bearer is to be alone.  When I think of Paul in the Bible, I consider him to be somewhat of a Burden Bearer.  Yes, he was a rebel and he had a big mouth for Christ and frankly he wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone but he was a Burden Bearer just the same and his writings attest to this.  Hidden in the warnings and instructions of the scriptures, are the telltale signs of someone deeply burdened for the flock of Christ.

So why am I comparing Paul to Frodo?  I’m not.  I am comparing myself to Frodo and Paul.  I am a Burden Bearer.  My main spiritual gift is Mercy and I will err on that side every time.  I want to take care and fix things for everyone.  While this is a noble calling, it is also an all-consuming one.  As the co-leader of two separate LifeGroups, I am often called upon to help folks in crisis.  This can go one of two ways, I can be Paul, burdened, but passionate about helping, pressing into Christ for strength and being bold in my discourse…or I can be Frodo, weighed down by the job of being a Ring Bearer.  Frodo knows his duty and he is determined to see it through to its conclusion but in the same instant, he also becomes consumed by the task at hand and this allows the dark side to begin claiming him, little by little.  It is only because his friend Samwise refuses to give up Frodo that is saved in the end.  That isn’t the whole movie of course, but that is the gist of it.  Frodo was a Ring Bearer and he paid a dear price for that.  Paul was a Burden Bearer and while he paid a hefty price as well, he did so with acceptance and joy.

Last week I was Frodo.  The weight of recent developments weighed me down and caused me to buckle under.  I wasn’t the only one.  A dear friend and I had a conversation about how they were affected in a similar fashion.  It was at that moment that a physical exercise I had done many years earlier with the Lord, came back to me.  It goes something like this:

You will need a backpack, a 10 pound sack of potatoes and a helper

Put the empty backpack on your back.  Empty the potatoes on the table.  Begin to give them designations.  For instance, you are burdened for the salvation of a friend or family member, designate a potato for that and have your helper put it in the backpack.  Continue doing this until all the potatoes are spoken for and in the backpack.

At this point, you might notice the backpack is heavier but not terribly heavy, the weight is evenly distributed and because the potatoes were added gradually, the transition from empty to 10 pounds didn’t seem to be very noticeable.

Now, take off the backpack and set it on the table.  Walk to another room and come back.  Notice how you have more spring your step without the extra 10 pounds?  Grab the still full backpack and put it on.  You will notice how heavy it seems this time.  Did the weight change?  How come it seems heavier than when you took it off?  The illusion is the same as a frog in a pot.  If you put the frog in hot water, it will jump out, but if you put the frog in cold water and slowly heat the water to boiling, the frog will stay in the water and cook.  By adding the weight gradually, you didn’t notice that your burdens were becoming greater than you should bear.  Notice that I say, should not can.  We can bear anything we need to but some things we should not bear.  Some things need to be passed on to the ultimate Burden Bearer, Jesus Christ.

So now you are wearing a 10 pound backpack…what now?  Take it off.  Each of your burdens is named and in it, take it off and give it to your Burden Bearer.  Christ is always your best choice for the bearing of burdens.  Once you take it off, let it go…Christ can handle it and He doesn’t need your help.

This illustration was part of something God revealed to me around 30 years ago and it is one I frequently forget. But last week, I was reminded once again, that my burdens need to be transferred to the very capable shoulders of my Lord and King.

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