This morning, as I waved my husband off to work and took a seat at my kitchen table, I felt burdened. Somewhat discouraged. Weighted down. For a few minutes I just sat there. Slowly, as I turned to Colossians God began to speak to my heart ever so gently.
Colossians 3:1-2 (the message)
So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ — that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
For me this morning, I knew God was reminding me to keep my eyes on Him. Don’t we all encounter situations and people who challenge us? We want things to be different. Sometimes we hurt that they aren’t. We see how good things could be and we pray that circumstances will change. But you know what? We can’t control people. We can’t control circumstances. And when we try, even with the right heart, to take this on it quickly becomes a burden and a weight. Only God changes hearts. Only God changes lives. We are but mere humans…He is the all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving One.
I lived many years with the burden of trying to change others. The funny (or not so funny) part is that as I was so intent on seeing others change I neglected the changes I needed! Many of us long for people and circumstances to change in our lives. We believe we would be happy if. If someone or something else was different. And because we can’t control others the burden and weight eventually brings with it anger and resentment. See, the work of trying to change others will drain us and because they don’t respond the way we want and on our time-table we become angry with them. As if they are the ones wearing us out. No, we wear ourselves out.
“Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ…See things from his perspective.” God was using this verse to remind me not to become focused or absorbed with the things, people or situations around me. Jesus was reminding me to look up! Vanessa, keep your eyes on Me! I will never place the burden of someone else’s choices on your shoulders. Vanessa, I will never place the weight of another’s heart-change in your hands. You are not able. Only I am able.
As I got down on my knees the Holy Spirit enabled me to pray the powerful prayer I needed to break off the weight I was feeling. I immediately sensed the peace I have so come to guard in my life. I will not take back the weight and burden of controlling others…their choices, their opinions. I will pray for them most fervently. I will seek God daily and ask Him to change me!! And I will rest in the peace of knowing that only God can tear down the walls…only God can melt hardness…only God can shatter pride…only God can heal lives…only God can open our eyes to truth.
As I turned the music up loud this morning, this thought came to my mind: One of the most binding ways to live is thinking you have it all figured out. Especially with God. The less I lean on what I think and my opinions and let God lead my understanding the more freely I live. The challenge is realizing the difference. Only God can do that for us and others.
It can be hard sometimes when we care about people to watch them struggle. And it can be hard at times to have others so certain they are “right” to judge us as we struggle. You know what I think this morning? God has never asked us to lord over one another. I don’t believe His intention is for us to try to judge and change each other. I believe, as I clearly read in my Bible this morning, God asks us to look up. And keep looking up. That doesn’t mean we don’t see what is going on around us or that we stick our heads in the sand. It means we bring our concerns and cares for others to Jesus. We let Him work and we give ourselves over as a vessel for Him to use in His time and in His way. We give up our agenda and learn to trust in God’s goodness.
If there is one thing I have learned over the past few years it’s that I most certainly don’t have it all figured out. I sure thought I did! The Bible is absolute truth but I was spending quite a bit of time applying those truths to the lives around me rather than my own. My life is being turned inside out as I choose to let Jesus fill me. And the more I know Him the less I need to have it all figured out. The less I have to be right. The less I have to judge others. The less I have to measure the spiritual muscle of others. The less I have to measure myself against the person sitting in the row in front of me. The less I have to prove myself. The less I have to defend my church or my doctrine. The less I have to attach labels to others. The less I have to accept labels. See, every one of those things is a weight. Goodness, it’s a weight I no longer have any desire to carry.
I’ll take the mind-blowing, burden-bearing, freedom-giving love of Jesus any day. I’d rather be raked over the spiritual coals by my Heavenly Father, trusting in His love, and be changed myself than live to change others. Jesus is the one who does that. See, my personal prayer is that anyone looking my way will find me looking up.