A pandemic provides the perfect time to climb out of your own wagon.
The waves slapped the beach in perfect rhythm as the clouds did their best to scoot across the early morning sky. The rising sun tinted the horizon with a smear of pink that would make Monet smile and run to find a canvas.
I sat sipping coffee on the fifth floor condo balcony, no longer paying attention to the occasional slamming of the gate below. Instead, my mind fixated on an old memory of a much younger me relaxing next to my Pawpaw in a similar scene. Even these many decades later, I can hear the overwhelming emotion in his voice upon surveying the vastness of the ocean. He faintly whispered, “Just think! God made all of this!”
Perhaps it was that very moment that led me to grow up believing Jesus lived at the beach. Even though He has since convinced me that He lives inside my heart, there’s still a very tender piece of me that wants to believe He loves His time at the beach as much as I do.
Suddenly, the gate slammed louder than usual, and I snapped back to real time. I looked down to see two women lumbering down the boardwalk wagging an overloaded wagon. The chairs, tents, coolers, and who knows what else swayed back and forth perilously. So naturally, I watched, silently hoping for a live edition of America’s Funniest Videos while “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” played in my ears. (Don’t judge me. We’re all a little conflicted at times. 🙂 )
They made it to the end of the boardwalk, and even transitioned successfully from decking to sand. The older woman unwrapped the younger woman’s towel from her neck and draped it across her own as a signal that youth had won the job of driving their load across the deep sand.
Her blonde ponytail rocked back and forth in opposition to the teetering cargo. Every trudge engraved deep ruts in the sand as I imagined the burn in her weary thigh muscles. About halfway to their destination, a couple walked up behind the pair. Without saying a word, the man bent down, put his hand to the back of the load, and pushed. The young woman’s step became quicker. She stood a bit taller. I wondered if she thought she’d suddenly gotten stronger or somehow managed to stumble upon a smoother path. Finally, the curious worker bee turned around to check her cargo only to see a man providing the strength she lacked. She flashed a humongous smile his way, aptly conveying her joy at having some hefty help.
If you think my mind began connecting this scene with how Jesus provides the push we need to get going, you would most likely be in the majority and very perceptive; but you might miss a more powerful connection.
My thoughts, instead, jumped immediately to the cargo.
I think it might be safe to say that we’ve all had our wagons overloaded at times. Maybe religious rules once towered and teetered in yours. Or perhaps there were doubts about your abilities. Or difficult people. Or job-related stress. Or sickness. Or grief. Or negative emotions. Or maybe, just maybe, your wagon got loaded with too much of you. It’s hard to see, much less acknowledge, a helping hand when your cargo gets stacked too high.
Like the blind man Jesus healed in John 9, the lady pulling the wagon through the sand never asked for help. Yet, both of them stepped a little quicker and stood a little taller when they partnered with their helper to get rid of their burdens.
When we let our stacks get so high that they tower and teeter, I feel sure Satan laughs. He does not want us to turn our eyes upon Jesus for even a second. We can easily become too proud to let go of anything. We tell our family and friends, “I’ve got this!” and we honestly think we do until it all comes crashing to the ground. We get so used to pulling a heavy wagon we feel guilty when we aren’t straining. If we ever do take the time to turn and look, we see nothing but cargo, so we lean forward and tug harder.
I realized I needed to let go of a few things when:
- It became hard for me to ask for or accept help
- My mind and body stayed revved or sick
- Sleep ran the other way
- Family and friends were worried about me
- My schedule left no margin for down time
- I rarely had fun
Cargo cleaning takes prayer, time, and an abundance of soul searching. It takes sitting quietly enough to hear what the Spirit wants us to get rid of. We need some mighty hefty help to get us out of our own wagons.
These days, I don’t ask Jesus to push me. I ask Him to help me keep my load light enough to see the people around me. Who knows? Honest to goodness joy might even become evident to Him and everyone else whenever we feel light enough to flash our humongous smiles their way. Someday, while still on this earth, let’s take the time to relax together as Jesus-loving friends. Let’s sit with one another long enough to whisper in unison and amazement, “Just think! God made all of this!”
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – JesusMatthew 11:28-30