I've been reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. In it the author shares a story about a man who meets God. God then asks him to pull a wagon with three stones up a hill. The task is easy enough, very bearable until he starts adding loads to his wagon in thoughts of helping others and pleasing God.
How timely. I am so glad for the comments I received on my last post and also for this point. They couldn't have come at a better time.
If you've read my blog at all, its pretty evident that I'm the Martha of the story. I think many of us are. In a society of overachievers, that's not too surprising. The desire to have it all and do it all. The belief that everyone is self-sufficient, and we don't need anyone else.
We tend to believe that we can fix it all - situations, relationships, circumstances - and in the process make bigger messes, and wonder why God doesn't help us, when we should've just given it up to him in the first place. We try to take on ministries, or just get involved, becoming so busy in the serving of Christ and his people, that we miss out on getting to know Jesus.
We get so busy and hurried, that soon the task that God gave you and your natural gifts are no longer apparent to you, they became buried sometime ago, beneath the clutter of busy-ness.
Reading Romans 12, you'll see God's perfect plan for his church.
1-2 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable (stress is mine - read God will not ask more of us than we can bear). Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
I find it interesting how this passage so applies to our present world. In our present world we concentrate on what we think will please God, rather than taking the time to find what he desires from us. After growing up to believe we should be this, and do that, or live here or like that, it takes a renewing of the mind to find what it is that God desires from us.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.
Stop. Notice the first part of that sentence. Often we take on more burden than we should in an effort to do good, or be helpful, believing we are serving and gaining God's favor in doing so. And in this sentence, Paul tears that notion down, plainly accusing someone who does too much of thinking highly of himself. So really, the burdens that we take on and the frustrations and discouragements that result are brought on by our own pride and selfishness. Ironic isn't it?
4-8 For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.
What is that percentage? 20% of the congregations tend to do 80% of the work. And of that 20%, how much of it are the ministers and their wives? And what portion of that 80% is done by the ministry and their wives? That is not what God intended. He did not intend for us to take up the burdens that he has distributed to others.
It reminds me of a volleyball team I was once on. There was one person who thought he was an all-star and too often would jump in front of someone, or call the ball, playing other positions constantly along with his own. It wasn't long before he was playing the entire court, getting exhausted in the process and wondering why everyone else didn't even try. They might not have been as good of players as he was, but his actions only encouraged them to stand aside and let him do all the work. They no longer made an effort at all. And you can only guess how many games were won, with one exhausted person doing all the work - who really couldn't be everywhere at once - even though he thought he could.
So we don't help ourselves when we take on burdens that don't belong to us, and we don't help those who God gave particular burdens too, and we certainly don't help the church when we aren't working as a body.
So the conclusion seems clear doesn't it? It's time to start going through the wagon, and dumping out the rocks that God never asked us to bear.