Posted by: pmarkrobb | July 13, 2011

snowball of burden

There is great depth and meaning to the Sabbath.  Far too much to cover in a single post.  But it was something that worked its way into a soft spot in my heart, and wouldn’t leave me as I began reading the book of Mark this week.

Our individual and collective worlds seem to be a snowball of burden heading down the proverbial hill these days.  Whether you are out of work and in need of the most basic provision, or overworked and in need of the grandest scale of relief; whether you are a single parent in need of three more pairs of hands and a few moments to yourself to breathe, or a two-income family caught on a treadmill that has no buttons to stop or slow the pace; or whether you have the gift of youth, but feel completely enveloped by a profound loneliness and the expectations of everyone around you, or a mature soul that can’t figure out how your nest can be empty, but at the same time be more harried and complicated than when it was full, life seems to stack our decks with burden.

In the early chapters of Mark, we find a Savior that is more than familiar with our burdens.  Mark is the action/adventure gospel.  From chapter 1, verse 1 it seems you’re shot out of a canon, whizzing past a brief mention of John preparing the way for Christ and then immediately into Jesus’ earthly ministry.  As the action begins and then builds, you find Jesus surrounded on every side.  Crowds grow and follow him; He is touched and tugged on; people can’t find their way to Him, so they climb on top of houses and drop people through the roof to be healed.  How does Jesus respond?

One consistent practice is first mentioned in verse 35 of Chapter 1 …

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  (MSG)

Actually, the question I just posed is an incorrect one.  This practice of solitude and prayer is not a response, but rather things that are in Christ’s nature.  Jesus desires and lives for communion with the Father, and models it in a way that we would be wise to adopt as a practice in our own lives.  Prayer is the breath of life, and solitude heals, nurtures and protects.

Before we leave this spot, I think it’s worth returning for a moment to the truth of how familiar Jesus is with our burdens.  The very next words that follow the verse above are, “Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”  Can you relate?  So can He.

With these thoughts still marinating, I continued reading and arrived at Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27.  To give context, Jesus is walking with his disciples and some religious leaders on the Sabbath.  At one point in their walk, the Pharisees observe the disciples breaking the heads off stalks of grain, and challenge Jesus with what they judge to be “unlawful” behavior.  Jesus responds with a short Old Testament history lesson about Kind David.  And then says, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath.” (MSG)

The Sabbath is a term I am very familiar with, but in that moment its relevance in my battle with burden jumped off the page.  I began to see that one of the ways the Sabbath was made to serve us is in separating us from our burdens.  At a bare minimum, it’s one day a week to let go of, and lay down all that bears down on us.  During which, we reorient our posture in the direction of He who is able to bear all.  It begins with submission, leads us to a place of worship, and results in true rest and peace.  Sounds like the perfect prescription from the Great Physician in our battle with burden.  We should do it more often, but a journey always starts with a single step.  Maybe Sabbath is a good first one for you, or maybe prayer or solitude.

Maybe you found us today and all of this sounds nice, but is completely foreign because you don’t know or aren’t sure about Jesus.  Burdens are common to all of us and so often resemble the dark storm in Mark 4:37-39.  I pray that you reach out to us, or God directs someone into your life that can point you in the direction of the Jesus that calmed that dark storm.  The Jesus who can give a peace unlike anything the world can offer.


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