I got up with an attitude. I hadn’t slept well and the fog outside wasn’t helping my mood. I grabbed a quick cup of coffee and the leash and stumbled outside and went for the woods. I walked and prayed but couldn’t climb out of the funk.
“Lord, I don’t know what’s going on, but I need your help. Please show me you are with me!”
The flowers in the field looked drab, the gnats were bugging me, and my allergies were acting up. I was feeding my grumpy attitude with negative self talk, how I was failing, especially as a wife and mother. Then I saw what put me over the edge.
Something that reminded me of Hansel and Gretel slowly unfolded. But instead of breadcrumbs and little rocks on the trail, candy wrappers were strewn all along the path. Every few feet, like pictures from a crime scene of a kid gone rogue on sugar, the case unwrapped. Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, and Starburst had all been on the offender’s menu. Then at the end of the trail, a brown lunch bag gave evidence that the spree had ended for the litterer. My mind went nuts. “I can’t believe this! Who does that?”
I stomped ahead for another half a mile and turned around to head home. When I came back to the place where the wrapper trail had ended I heard something in my soul,
“Pick them up!”
My husband says, “You can tell a German. But you can’t tell a German anything!” He is right. This strong impression didn’t sit well with me. If it was God telling me to pick up the wrappers He was just going to be out of luck.
“Pick them up!”
If this was just my conscience I could talk myself out of it, but if this was the Lord, I was being disobedient. Reluctantly, I grabbed the brown lunch bag and stuffed one wrapper into it. Then another and another. Each time I bent over I became more irritated.
I walked until I found a garbage can close to where my car was parked and tossed the wrappers into it.
I didn’t expect what happened next. When the wrappers hit the bottom of the bin, it was as if a huge weight went with it. My attitude suddenly changed. Like a mountain climber untying a heavy backpack after a long hike, I felt a burden lift.
“You only carry burdens for a short while!”
I knew it was the Spirit. So many things came to mind that I carry around. The weight of my own burdens seems to be too much to bear at times, not to mention all the burdens of others I often carry. I quickly get bogged down and let these things make me sad and angry.
There, in the woods next to that garbage can, set in a deep awareness of the temporal. When we serve Jesus, we give God permission to put burdens on us as He sees fit. At times they seem too heavy and even unfair. However, we are only stewards of them for a short time. We can be assured that He is with us on the path and shows us how far we must carry them. He is faithful. We can trust that He is going ahead of us and in due time will have us put them aside.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)