HOW? – 4. HOW CAN I LIGHTEN MY LOAD?
From Burnout to Balance
Delivery truck – stop at every robot – driver - get out of the truck, take a stick and bang on the side of the truck. Next robot, get out, bang on the side of the truck. He was doing this all along the road. Finally the guy behind him - curiosity got the better of him - asked, “What are you doing?” He said, “Buddy, I’ve got 2 tons of canaries in this truck. It’s a 1ton truck so I have to keep half of them in the air all the time.” Some of us are like that truck driver - on overload. You’ve got so many balls in the air all the time. Jesus summarises the secret of stress management in one sentence - if you do these things your stress will go down, your satisfaction will go up, the overload will be lightened. This could be the turning point of your life today if you will do what Jesus says.
“Come to Me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus says 3 things - come, take and learn. That’s all you need to know about stress management.
1. TURN TO JESUS
“Come to Me all you that are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” People came to Jesus for many different reasons - forgiveness, answers, healing, salvation, eternal life. But Jesus says “You can come to Me for rest.” Release from stress and overload. He says, “Are you weary? Overloaded? Come to Me.”
“I will give you rest for your souls” - much deeper than physical rest. Our greatest problem is not overloaded muscles - some of us need to use our muscles more. We’re overloaded in our mind - our spirit - our emotions. We need soul rest far more than physical rest. We need release from worry, tension, stress, guilt, fear, bitterness, anxiety. Jesus says, “If you’re worn out, if you’re tired, overloaded, come to Me and I will give you soul rest.”
Who or what do you naturally turn to when you are exhausted, depleted and overloaded? You may be a Christian but I doubt that your first choice is always Jesus. You may turn to food when you’re exhausted. You may turn to TV and prop your feet up. You may turn to a drink or a pill. You may turn to some other form of escape. But none of these things can give you soul rest. Only God can give you that.
The next verse is from Isaiah - “He [God] gives power to those who are tired and worn out and He offers strength to the weak. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.” New strength - not just strength you had and you didn’t know about - strength from God, supernatural strength, strength from outside yourself. How do you get it? It says, “Wait on the Lord.”
The antidote for your overloaded soul is not a plan for time management - not a program for stress reduction - not a philosophy on how to simplify your life - not a pill. It’s a person. Jesus does not say, “Come to church” - “Come to small group” - not even - “Come to the Bible.” He says, “Come to Me.”
The opposite of what the world teaches. The world teaches when you’re empty inside - do more. If I could just have more - if I could just be more then I’ll have rest and peace. Jesus said, it’s not a matter of do. It’s a matter of come. “Come to Me.” The first thing you need in your overloaded condition, is more time with God. “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”
How do you do that? Matthew 6 - “Find a quiet secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can. And the focus will shift from you to God. And you will begin to sense His grace.” Get alone so you’re not pretending or acting in front of other people and you will begin to sense His grace.
Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we turn to Jesus more? Why don’t we come to Christ? 1. We think we can handle it on our own. 2. We often forget what God is really like. We forget that God is a loving Father, that God cares for us like a father cares for a small child. God isn’t going to punish you when you come to Him for rest. He’s going to love you. If you’ll just come to God like a little child comes to a father, He will teach you how to really rest. But you’ve got to turn to Him. That’s the first step.
2. GIVE UP CONTROL
Jesus says, “Come to Me” then He says “Take My yoke upon you.” The reason why we get so tired and overloaded - we think we have to be in control of everything - “It all depends on me. I’ve got to pull all the strings. I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve got to be in control.” Wrong! It’s up to God - we need to let go of control. The greater your need to control things, the more your life will be prone to overload and stress.
Jesus’ solution to your stress - “Take My yoke upon you.” That sounds like more of a burden - I'm carrying too much already. How can I take Jesus Christ’s yoke on me? Let’s remind ourselves what a yoke is. A yoke is a wooden pole that attaches 2 oxen together to lighten the load so they can work together as a team - the burden is shared and the load is lightened.
Yoke - symbol of partnership. Jesus says, “I will help you with your problems. I will help carry your load.” He doesn’t add to your load. He says, “I’ll share your load.” He says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Why? Because we’re sharing it. Psalm 55: 22 “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders. He’ll carry your load and He’ll help you out.” God has a stronger back - He says “Join up with Me, connect with Me, get attached to Me, put on the yoke with Me and I’ll carry the load with you.”
Yoke - symbol of control - farmers use the yoke to guide and direct the oxen. When oxen are yoked together - controlled. When you are under the yoke of Christ you are controlled by God. You have given up control. The load is lighter but you have given up control. When I'm yoked with Christ we move together in the same direction and at the same pace. When you are yoked to Jesus Christ you can’t go in a different direction than Jesus. When you are yoked with Jesus Christ you can’t go any faster than Jesus goes. He sets the direction and He sets the pace.
We need direction in our lives but we need more than that - we need a pacesetter. All of us have a tendency to go faster than we really should or slower. Jesus knows better than you do what is the adequate, accurate pace for your life. Gal. 5: 25 “Since we live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”“Our lives get in step with God by letting Him set the pace.” Rom 3: 28.
Who’s setting the pace in your life right now? If you’re setting the pace it’s no wonder you’re stressed out because you’re looking around at everybody else, seeing they’re going fast and you think you’ve got to catch up. They’re burning out too. Why do you want to let other people set the pace in your life? Jesus was never in a hurry. Bob Dylan wrote a song “You’re going to have to serve somebody.” You’re going to give your life for someone or something. You may be yoked to your career - yoked to the desire to acquire great wealth - yoked by the expectations of other people. All of those are heavy burdens. They’re heavy yokes to carry on your shoulders.
Jesus said, “Why don’t you get rid of that one and wear Mine. It’s light and it’s easy.” Easy - means “perfectly fitted.” God has wired you up with certain spiritual gifts, abilities, personality and experiences. When you try to do things that you were never shaped to do but you’re doing them because everybody else is doing them - you’re going to get under stress. You’re going to get overloaded. You’re going to get out of control. You need to take Jesus’ yoke because it fits perfectly. It matches your shape. If your burden is heavy - you’re doing something that is out of God’s will for your life. You may be doing the wrong things. You may be doing the right thing in the wrong way. God says the antidote to stress is give up control. When I give up control, God gives me His peace.
3. LEARN TO TRUST
Matthew 11:29 “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus is the outstanding model of history in how to live a life of purpose and peace. Watch how He lived and then do it. Learning is a process - doesn’t happen instantly - takes time. Our habits of hurried, worried lifestyles - didn’t start yesterday. You’re not going to get over it overnight - got to unlearn some things - relearn some new things.
What can we learn from Jesus? “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart.” Gentle and humble. How is that going to help me in stress? I’d rather learn how to have courage and stamina, confidence and strength, power and self-assurance. But God says - If you’re overloaded you need to learn gentleness and humility. Why? - because 2 of the greatest causes of overload in your life are aggression and arrogance.
Aggression – we get in a hurry. I’ve got to have it now, even if I can’t afford it. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to pause, we don’t want to delay, we don’t want to re-consider. We jump into things and we get way over committed. We’ve got to do it now. We’ve got to do it first, we’ve got to do it best.
Arrogance - ego is responsible for a lot more stress in your life than you want to give it credit for. We go out and think, “I can handle this!” and we take on another responsibility. Ego and arrogance is why you try to control everything because you think you know better than everybody else. You think you know better than God. You try to do it all, have it all, be it all and you try to please everybody. It’s pride - drives us to buy more than we can afford, attempt more than we can fulfill in terms of commitment.
You need to remind yourself daily that you are not everybody’s saviour. You can’t solve everybody’s problems - you are not the manager of the universe - Jesus is. Humility - brings sanity - brings release from stress. Be gentle, be humble. How do you learn that? By watching Jesus -“I am gentle and humble…”
He was totally dependent upon God - his secret of peace – 12 times in John - “I only do what the Father tells me to do - I only say what the Father tells me to say - I think what He wants me to think - I go where He wants me to go - I stay where He wants me to stay.” Jesus lived a life of simple humble obedience to the Father - “All I do is what the Father tells me and I don’t worry about anything else. I'm not into crowd pleasing.”
Do you think that would change the stress level in your life if you began to live that way? “I'm not going to try to please everybody in the world because I can’t. I'm going to work on doing what God wants me to do, what God tells me is most important and not worry about the fact that I can’t get it all done, be in all places at once, have all things.” That will be a breath of relief to our lifestyles. You don’t have to know all the answers or worry about what’s going to happen in the future.
“Since the Lord’s directing our steps why try to understand everything that happens along the way?” He’ll get me where He wants me to be and He’ll get me there at the right time, with the right direction and at the right pace. What about when I get tired? “When I'm ready to give up, He knows what I can do.” Learning to trust and learning to let go are the secrets of stress reduction. This is the greatest invitation you’ll ever get in your life. “Come to Me all you who are weary and overloaded, stressed out and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart. You will find rest for your soul for My burden is easy, My burden is light.”
What’s weighing you down? Problems with your children? Finances? Aging parents? Difficulty with your business or your health? God brought you here today to say “Come to Me!” The starting point is to unload by talking to Jesus about the things that are frustrating you, telling Him exactly how you feel. Sometimes even your best friends don’t want to listen to your burdens. It’s a little too much. They’ve got their own. But Jesus will never ignore you or tell you to shut up. Jesus wants to bear the burden. He wants to be your partner. He wants to be the pacesetter.
Prayer - “Dear God, I am tired of being tired all the time. I'm tired of trying to control everything. I'm tired of a life without rest and peace. Please forgive me for when I’ve turned to other things for release instead of turning to You. I want You to set the pace and the direction for me. Forgive me for my arrogance. Forgive me for filling my life with less important things so that I have no time for what matters most. I want to learn from You, Jesus. I want to be gentle and humble so I can have Your peace. In my darkest hour, I ask You to fill me with Your power, let the light of Your love shine on me. In Your name, I pray. Amen.”