If you’ve been around church or Christians for any length of time, you may have heard someone say, “Just lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus.” Have you ever really thought about that? The concept sounds great, freeing even. But in reality, what does that truly look like? How do we lay down our burdens and troubles?
Here’s what it looks like for me. I come to Jesus in prayer wearing a backpack full of my past. I have pictures of my kids and my parenting struggles in one hand. In the other hand is my schedule full of things to do. I’m wearing a large parka of guilt and the pockets are full of criticisms I’ve spoken to my husband. My shoes are covered in the slop of the things I could have done better and the ways I failed as a Christian.
I look up to Jesus and say, “Ok here I am. Are you sure you want me to lay this mess at your feet? Some of it is pretty bad. Especially this stuff here in my backpack!” Of course Jesus says “yes.” He reminds me that his grace is enough. He died on the cross so that my sins, my shortcomings, my faults would be overlooked by God. I am seen as righteous. So I lay it all down. And, for a time, I sit there clothed in a white robe made radiant by his blood. And it is good. I am at peace. I rest. In that moment I feel joy and contentment.
And then my prayer time is over. I put my parka back on, slip my feet back into my dirty shoes, throw on my heavy backpack and gather my kids and my schedule. Yes, it’s true. I am terrible at leaving my “stuff” at Jesus’ feet and resting in his grace. Are you like me? Have you ever picked up your burdens, your sins, shortly after laying them down? It’s hard. In my head I understand that Jesus died for me, but in my heart I feel the weight of my guilt. I love Jesus and don’t want him to carry MY burdens, my struggles.
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus tells us to come. He tells us to rest. He wants us to lay down our burdens and take up his easy yoke. He’s inviting us to exchange the things that weigh us down, for something much lighter, for something that brings us peace.
In a 2016 interview, Pastor John Piper said this: “When Jesus calls us to come to him and rest, he means rest in him, find your soul resting in him. We are to find Jesus to be our rest. Or, to use different words — and it is important to use these words — find Jesus to be our contentment. Find Jesus to be our peace. Find Jesus to be our satisfaction.” Jesus tells us his yoke is light. Do you know why it’s light? A yoke is a wooden beam used between two animals to pull a load TOGETHER. Jesus wants to share our burdens. In fact, HE wants to take on the burden.
When I take my burdens back, it’s because I’m giving into my sin nature. I’m taking things into my own hands because I want to be in control. Piper continues to say, “the reason Jesus says it is hard is because we love sin. We don’t love to rest.” I’m a checklist type of person. My best days are days where I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and can say, “Look at what I did today!” However, it’s not about what I can do or the many things I can carry. It’s about what Jesus has already done. It’s about trading all the junk that I control for something lighter and more fulfilling...a relationship with my Savior.
So the next time you see yourself filling your backpack, or loading your pockets with guilt and shame; pause. We are not called to carry them. The only thing we’re told to do is yoke up with Jesus. He died so that we can leave our sins at the foot of the cross. We fight the shame and weight of our sin by resting in his grace, by finding contentment and rest in his yoke.