Hi everyone. Rob here.
One of the greatest burdens we bear is the burden of expectation. These expectations are sometimes spoken but are often unspoken and sensed. They are often not even real but perceived. There are the expectations we feel from our families, our workplaces, our churches and even friends. These expectations are usually centred around one thought: DO MORE!
If we were to break down where much of our everyday anxiety comes from, the burden of expectation would be at or very near the top of the list. If you’re anything like me you imagine scenarios and conversations in your head. Your thoughts get captured by fear of failure or fear of accusation. Our fragile sense of self gets threatened and we can begin to wonder if we’re just posing, just pretending that we’re capable of living well. Clearly this isn’t freedom or joy. How do we begin to shed ourselves of this burden?
As we often talk about in this blog, naming the problem is our starting point. Once we discover that it’s the burden of expectation that’s weighing down our spirits then we can begin the work of finding out where those expectations are coming from. That helps us to discern whether they’re real or not; appropriate or not; from God or not. And this is where the real work lies. It is answering the questions, what does God want from us? What are God’s expectations? What does he want me to carry? But we have to unload first. We have to give to God all the burdens that we weren’t designed to carry. This takes committed prayer work. It’s amazing how many rocks we end up carrying! The fact that we feel weighed down is proof that the rocks aren’t God given. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 that we quote often:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.
I’m not sure how many of us go through our Christian life feeling like our burdens are light. I have glimpsed it. It happens when I am totally surrendered. I’m not feeling it now because I’m in the midst of the surrendering process. I’m still naming the burdens and unloading my rocks. I’m seeking patience and perseverance as I do this because part of me is finding it hard to let them go. However, I know the fruit of this exercise. It’s worth it. The freedom it brings is delicious. The joy of freedom brings strength to your soul and life to your bones.
But there’s a fear to this as well. It’s the fear of letting other people down. If we let go of others expectations and only take on the yoke of Jesus we have to start saying no to some things. It may mean standing up to our bosses or our parents or our siblings. It may mean conflict, or at the very least discomfort. Every act that moves us towards freedom requires courage, and therefore, vulnerability. One does not exist without the other. It’s the vulnerability that drives us to God. It’s our very need of him that causes us to throw ourselves upon him and to cry out to him from our hearts. When we do this we give him permission to make a way for us, to give us what we need and to provide his solutions. He will help us to overcome our fear, stand up the enemy’s lies and accusation, walk in his peace and say what we need to say to those whom we need to say it.
God wants to remove our burdens but we need to co-operate with his Spirit for that to happen. May you exchange your rocks for the yoke of Christ. May you know lightness rather than heaviness. May you know what it yours and what is not, what is God-given and is not. May you know the freedom to live out Micah 6:8,
He has shown all you people what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Grace and peace everyone.