Little Pumpkin Big Burden
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22
My sister, Alaina, and I participated this year in “The Great Pumpkin Run.” We participate virtually which means that we sign up online, run our race by a certain date, and submit our finished race online. When registering for the race there is an optional track available called “The Tough Pumpkin Challenge.” Participants can compete to be crowned a tough pumpkin by running the entire 5k course while carrying a pumpkin. If you ask me, the race is challenge enough, but my sister has never missed an opportunity to up the ante. For the second year in a row she raced with a bright orange sidekick, this one bigger than the last.
Around the halfway mark of our race, as she passed me, (going the other way mind you) she teased that I better never let her run with a pumpkin again. By that time, what seemed like just a few extra pounds had multiplied to produce added strain, cramping, and downright pain. I shouted encouragingly, “just chunk it!” To which she replied with zero hesitation, “No, I have to finish.”
I continued to think about that moment for the rest of the race. Is that not a picture of the burdens that plague us as we run “the race” that we call the pursuit of godliness? What seems like a small hindrance or distraction grows and becomes a painful weight, slowing our pace and shortening our once graceful stride. We worry, we are anxious, we are stuck in our own understanding and self doubt. We are heavy laden with grief and the cares of this world, but we can’t put them down. They are part of the race, after all, and we have to finish.
But what if as I passed my sister on the path, I had taken that pumpkin, cradled it in my arm and run beside her. What if I carried it, boosting her speed and endurance with the fresh breath of being burden-free? Even more, what if it still counted to her credit and accomplished the goal?
This is just a small part of what Jesus has done for us. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us that Jesus said, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Obviously, my illustration breaks down a bit and cannot fully represent the completeness of the help of our Lord Jesus. He not only gives us rest, but He gives us Himself. He runs the race with us, being our strength, and equipping us for the appropriate works. Notice He does not assure us of a burden-free journey, but He does promise that the burdens that come with running with Him are light, suited for the journey, and made possible by His own grace and power.
Our Heavenly Father assures of this truth many times in His Word:
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. Isaiah 40:11
Therefore humble yourselves under the might hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:6,7
Jesus has never held the expectation that we were sufficient in and of ourselves. On the cross, He not only supplied the sacrifice necessary for our forgiveness of sins, but He tore the veil and ushered all who believe into the freedom of God’s presence and abundance.
In a Great Pumpkin Run you have to do it on your own. Run your race. Carry your pumpkin. But in life with Christ we are linked with the One for whom nothing is impossible. Let’s stop trying to do it all on our own. Come to Jesus. After all, His yoke is easy and His burden light.