Saturday, April 14, 2012
A few years ago, I found myself facing a unique challenge. I was one of the women in charge of teaching the children at church. A young girl from our church died in a car accident. It was a Saturday. The next morning I would be facing a room full of children, many of whom would be experiencing this kind of loss for the first time. I can't express the weight I felt at this task. I spent the night pleading with the Lord for guidance. I didn't sleep much but I know I did sleep...because I had this dream....
I was hiking up a trail. It was a hot, sunny day. Other hikers were on the trail. I was carrying a backpack. After a while, I became hot and tired and decided to stop for a short rest.
As I sat by the trail, a man stopped in front of me. He was wearing a wide-brimmed hat. The sun was behind him and his face was hidden in shadow.
"Don't sit there too long or you'll never get to the top." he said in a friendly voice.
I was a little irritated that this stranger was interrupting my break. Not wanting to seem rude, I replied "I'm just taking a break"
The man looked down at the pack lying by my feet. "That's going to slow you down. Why not let me take it for you?"
Again, I was irritated. That was my pack. I wasn't going to just hand it over!
"That's okay." I said curtly. "There isn't much in there. I can handle it."
"I don't think so. " He said, a sad tone in his voice. "That pack will get heavier as you keep going. Eventually it will become too heavy for you. It will keep you from reaching the top."
After a pause he added, "I can carry it for you. Then you can make it."
I looked at the man closely. I noticed for the first time that he had a huge mound of packs on his back.
"No," I said again "It looks like you have a lot to carry already. I will carry my own pack." I was feeling a little insulted by this man. Was he saying I was too weak to carry my own weight?
The man sighed. "Well, do you mind if I look in your pack? See what's so important to you?"
I didn't want to show him but I sat quietly while he opened the pack and reached inside. He pulled out a large, heavy stone. On the stone was a photo of the young girl who had recently passed away. I felt my chest tighten as I saw her picture.
"This is your pain." he said solemnly, placing the stone on the ground.
He reached into the pack again and pulled out another stone, similar to the first. "This is your grief." he said and laid it next to the first. He reached into a side pocket and pulled out a handful of pebbles. "Sins." he said, almost amused. I looked away, feeling self-conscious.
"Well," He said, matter-of-factly, "These are heavy burdens. They will hold you back unless you let me carry them for you."
I felt panicked and desperate.
"I can't!" I said, choking back tears. "If I give it to you I will forget her!"
The man picked up one of the stones and took the photo off of it. "Here." He said "These are your memories. They're not heavy. You can carry they in your pocket. They won't slow you down at all. In fact, if you take that out and look at it from time to time it might even give you the motivation to keep going."
A feeling of relief and happiness flooded through me.
The man put the stones back in the pack. "So, can I take this for you?"
I nodded my consent.
He smiled and threw it on top of the others. "Don't sit there too long!' he said as he continued up the trail.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" Isaiah 53:4
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30