A few weeks before Christmas, Caleb lugged a one-gallon glass jar full of the year’s spare coins into the bank. As he walked carefully across the cold, tile floor, his lips pressed together as his arms strained to carry the weight. The clopping of his footsteps echoed throughout the quiet air of the bank. His gaze – straight ahead at the center counter where he could finally set down his load.
As he lifted the jug to set it on the counter, the corner of the platform kissed the edge of the jar. All he was left holding was the handle and 2” of the top. The rest shattered into a thousand shards of glass and the change spilled along beside it.
I thought about this episode this morning when I put some cash in my wallet. As I placed the wallet back in my purse, my shoulder immediately sagged.
What is making this so heavy? I wondered.
Ah, it’s all that change, I realized.
We now have a new jug that collects our change throughout the year. So I walked over to it, carrying my wallet full of coins.
As I dumped handfuls at a time into the container, my wallet got increasingly lighter each time. By the time I finished, I couldn’t believe the difference. I could barely feel my wallet at all.
Change is heavy, I muttered aloud.
At the word change, something inside me perked up.
Tell me about it…life change is heavy too.
In fact, through-out the past year, I have felt at times like that glass jug at the bank – shattered into a thousand pieces because of all the change inside and how heavy it is to carry. One touch at just the right time and just the right place and I’m a mess all over the floor.
A couple weeks ago my mom and I had the privilege of leading a ladies retreat. I shared about all the change in my life this past year. We started in the book of Ecclesiastes, for it too speaks of change. In between “a time to be born and a time to die” is a lot of stuff. And in all that stuff, there is much transition as you go from one season to the next.
Transition is awkward. It’s like today’s Texas weather –coats in the morning and flip flops in the afternoon.
As I prepared for the retreat, the Lord showed me how I can cope with those transition times: abide in Him.
I shared with the ladies that weekend how I yearn to bloom abundantly and fragrantly for the Lord. But in this season of life I feel bare branched and blossom-less.
This transition time feels a lot like the pruning in John 15:2 –
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
I have been fiercely independent my whole life, and it’s no different during times of transition and change. Honestly, I’d rather not embrace the pruning. I’d rather pluck myself from the vine and plant myself somewhere else, so I can bloom like I want to. Yet I’ve done that too many times and know it just leads me to shriveling up on the inside from lack of true nourishment.
John 15: 5 says:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
That may be the hardest verse in the Bible for me to accept. Apart from Him I can do nothing. With everything that’s in me I want to do something. I want to do big things. So when my branches look like the crate myrtles in my back yard, I think I need to fix it. I need to do something about it.
God is telling me No. Abide in me. You abide. I make the fruit.
Pruning and transition caused by change stinks! It’s hard. It’s heavy.
So how do we handle the weight?
The other day I was thinking of fasting. Just needing to hear from the Lord and wanting to quiet everything around me in effort to make His voice louder. There are so many things going on that I just don’t know what to do with. I feel like I have so much to carry. I picture it all in a bag, so I’m constantly re-arranging everything so I can carry it all. But eventually, I drop everything and throw my hands up. I can’t do it!
Not long after that I thought about Psalm 68:19: Praise be to the Lord our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
I had to check my heart. Was I wanting to fast in order to quiet the surroundings and in effect silence my flesh or was I wanting to hear how I can better carry this load I have? Because Jesus doesn’t offer a better way to carry the load. He offers to carry it for me. He bears my burdens.
When Caleb was carrying that jug into the bank, which would he would he have rather heard:
“Here, can I take that for you?” or
“You know, if you put your hands here and here and remember to keep your back straight and lift with your legs, that’ll make it easier…”
He would want someone to take it completely! That is if he wasn’t thinking he was pretty strong and mighty to be able to do it all on his own.
So often that describes me. Oh look Lord, I’m carrying it! Thank you for making me so strong that I can handle all this weight. I know it’s from all that praying I’ve been doing. It does make me strong.
Does that sound like abiding? Or fierce independence on self?
My wallet didn’t feel lighter because I moved the change to a different compartment. It felt lighter when I dumped it all into the change jug. My shoulder didn’t hurt anymore when I carried my purse. I could dance and run with it! My desire to fast turned into wanting to throw a feast.
That what Jesus calls to – dump our burdens on Him and then dance before Him in worship that He carries our burdens. Then, we are free and unhindered to run the race we were called to run.
Read John 15:1-17
Does life feel heavy to you right now? What burdens are you carrying?
What does abide mean to you? Does it come easy for you to abide in Him?
What season of life are you in? Green of summer? First buds of spring after winter? Bare cold of winter? Colorful yet turning cool like fall?
Are you in transition from one season to the next? What is the hardest thing about it? What can you look forward to?
Read Isaiah 58 – another perspective on fasting
What is the Lord saying to you?
Feel free to reply in the comments!