I’ve found so many beautiful new songs lately that I haven’t turned my Spotify off for days. It’s playing all the time and I often fall asleep with earphones in and the timer set. Randomly shuffling through my worship playlist excites me because, more often than not, God will choose a song to convict me, teach me, encourage me or inspire me. Sometimes, he’ll simply start a conversation between the two of us that He knows we need to have. Today we talked about how patient He is. How faithful and how kind. Through a song I’d not heard before He took a passage that I’d read earlier in the day and turned it. Just a tad. I slight change in direction so that my eyes could see anew how incredibly gentle He is to His children.
It was the story about Peter.
The nightmare started when Jesus was arrested and only became worse as the night wore on and Peter denied knowing Him. Three times! How could he? Especially since Jesus gave him a heads up at dinner. Just hours before, Jesus had told His disciples that they would deny and abandon Him. Peter was horrified. He protested and was certain that He’d never do such a thing. He even went so far as to say He’d die before denying Christ. It might be tempting to judge how quickly Peter seemed to forget such a shocking conversation until we realize that we do it all the time. Don’t we?
At least I do.
I hear God’s voice so unquestionably, experience His presence so profoundly or see His purpose so clearly that I confidently, and with all sincerity, vow to die before I would disobey His voice, forget His presence or stray from His call. And I mean it with all my heart as I’m sure Peter did.
But then came the moment when it all flooded back and Peter stood in a courtyard only to realize exactly what he’d done. And all he could do was weep.
How often do we react to our sin, our forgetfulness, our disobedience or our apathy with that kind of remorse? How often do we even recognize that we’ve denied Him? I’m sure that if it was something “big” we would fall to our knees in shame and weep, but the truth is that it’s all “big”. Some things are just easier to see and feel because there’s no rationalizing them away. They weigh on us like the weight of the world and we can barely breath. Other things become so comfortable that we repeat them over and over without even recognizing that they are wrong. And there are those struggles that we’ve had for so long that we’ve just given up on being free from them. We stop fighting and start to rationalize our way out of any culpability? No matter what it might be, it’s all the same- a betrayal of the one we belong to?
The question is, will we wake up to what we’ve done or what we’re doing? Do we care enough to weep over it? Do we want to stop the cycle that we’ve been repeating and die to ourselves in order to live for Christ? Peter didn’t notice his sin the first time either. It took three betrayals before he woke up to what was happening and I’m sure that wasn’t lost on him. I would hedge a bet that he beat himself up over it quiet a bit.
But then there’s this passage from church on Sunday.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus is humble and gentle. He’s kind. He’s patient. He’s loving. He’s strong and He fights for me and with me as He prays on my behalf. I’m certain He prays for those things that I struggle with. I imagine that He prays for me to wake up to the heavy burdens I carry and that I’d have the courage to lay those things down at His feet. After all, He knows that’s the only way I’ll find rest. Freedom from the repetitive nature of the things that hold me captive is found in exchanging my load for His. It’s a great deal because his is so much lighter than mine. It’s lighter than yours too. Whether your load consists of lots of hidden denials that have accumulated so slowly over time that you aren’t even aware of the burden you carry or whether it’s one big heavy burden that threatens to crush you, you weren’t meant to carry it. It’s too heavy for your shoulders or mine. But His shoulders can handle whatever we have to give. Whatever we are ready to die to, once and for all.
Shame. Regret. Weariness. Anger. Bitterness. Pride. Fear.
Even if we pick it back up tomorrow.
He won’t turn me away when I fall on His mercy and grace…no matter how often I’ve fallen on it before. It’s as relentless as the waves. He’ll continue to offer the trade of His load for mine until I find freedom, once and for all, through His blood and in His love.