A young man in scouts had an assignment that involved building with sticks and twigs. Being a bit overzealous, he decided to hand-gather the materials from a nearby forest and use it as an excuse to spend the day with his father. His father was a dedicated parent, but overloaded with some new responsibilities at work. The young man was persuasive, and his father agreed to spend the morning with him, as long as when they rested he could work on his project. The boy happily agreed.
They set out together with smiles and a sense of purpose. The young man wanted ten sticks of equal width, and after an hour they had only gathered three. Undaunted, the two sat down for a brief rest. The man pulled out his laptop and began to work, while his son fiddled with the various twigs and branches he had collected thus far. A large portion of them were not right, he decided, and kept a few that were straight enough. They set off again, pausing to enjoy a short time in the morning sun and the warmth it gave.
As they basked in the sun, a woman on a bike raced through the forest toward them at impressive speed. The father feared she did not see them and cautioned his son back from the path to give the bike plenty of room. The sun had temporarily blinded her, but she knew the pathway very well. As her vision cleared, she turned suddenly in surprise, afraid to brake too suddenly on the downhill slope. As the woman turned the bike and then over-corrected, she careened into the man and a nearby bush.
The bike was not damaged, and the man seemed to be okay. The woman apologized profusely while the man set her bike back on the path with a smile. Riding away, the woman waved and disappeared from view into the trees ahead. The young man had noticed his father was limping slightly when he righted the bike. Once the woman and bike were out of sight, he offered to check for injuries; and to show off what he had learned in scouts. His father smiled and watched his son’s serious face attending to his leg. He winced when his son touched his old injury and felt the familiar pain once again. He realized it was possible his knee was torn again.
The man assured his son that everything was okay, but that it was best they turn back for home. They attempted to use a tee shirt as a wrap for his knee, but gave up after it kept sliding down.
The two started back slowly, with the boy acting as a crutch for his father as best he could. At first, the injury was bearable and they made good progress. The longer they walked, the more the pace slowed as pain and swelling increased. They stopped often to prop his leg up, for already the knee had doubled in size.
Putting away the laptop and his notes again, the man prepared to rise. He looked up when his son tried to hand him the pack he carried. Shaking his head, the man stood up without assistance. He was strong enough; there was no reason to change anything. His son said nothing, but looked down in disappointment. The moment of pride passed and the man considered the idea. Could he trust his son with the expensive items he carried? His mind returned to the pain as they took a few steps then paused, then continued again slowly.
During the next break, the man rummaged through the extra items he carried, from the extra water and hatchet to the heavy duty flashlights and of course the camera, laptop, paperwork and other items that had seemed so essential when he packed. It was quite a load, he decided. He handed the pack to his son who gratefully put it on and nodded that yes, he could handle it. Once he was standing, his son handed him the backpack filled with twigs. Immediate relief flooded through him when he took the first step forward. This would be much easier. Together they continued gingerly toward the entrance.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the relief of a lighter burden than our own, burdens we chose or caused.
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
In Matthew 3:16 we read that right after Jesus is baptized, the heavens opened unto Him. The kingdom of heaven had been promised, and now it was here. This opening of heaven is a beautiful promise for us as well; that we have access to God without boundaries. Not only that, but the spirit of God (being spirit – yet seen because it was for God’s purpose) rests or alights on Him like a dove. Notice there is no indwelling of the spirit, but it rests just as was promised. Here in just one verse we have the description of some monumental promises fulfilled that were given centuries before.
That spirit that rested on Jesus is one we have access to today as well, and it is a spirit of gentleness. The description says the Spirit of God descended like a dove. The weight of a dove is so light that anyone could move freely with it resting on them. The dove and the lamb were both images used to help people understand the gentle and merciful side of God. It also demonstrates that even though our own sins are heavy, with Jesus the burden is light. Allowing God to carry the burdens that I could not, believing that the words shouted on the cross “It is finished” meant triumph has been a process for me.
I could not believe a spirit so gentle was God for a long time. I expected a heavy load of rules; I expected to be hooked up like a sad animal to a plow. Certainly payment must mean that I return the favor…that I show my faith, that I please God somehow. If the spirit didn’t mandate I do this or do that, I tried to find rules on my own. It is understandable to expect an exchange; my allegiance for freedom and even to expect that would mean a life without pleasure. How wrong I was! The designer of pleasure, the bringer of joy; our Creator gently leads us to the best answers to our needs…but not all of our wants.