Last weekend, I had the opportunity to cheer on our amazing friend, Kate, as she ran in a 10K at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. The course was on a terrain filled with many hills and valleys, and it finished inside the zoo. As the race started, each runner stood in anticipation of the starting whistle, shaking off last minute jitters and plotting out the course ahead. The gun sounded and they were off, climbing the first of many hills that lie ahead.
A few minutes after the starting corral had cleared, we made our way down to an area that was several feet from the finish line, where we could cheer on Kate and the other runners. As the others runners passed by we noticed several interesting characters run by, but one guy stuck out to me in particular. He was wearing something that seemed to me much crazier than any other outfit I have seen during a race. After a few seconds of bewilderment, I determined that he was wearing a weighted running vest!!! I thought to myself, who in their right-mind would purposely strap additional weight to their body and then attack a course with so many hills and valleys? Was he out to prove a point? Was he trying to test his endurance? Was he just plain crazy? As the week progressed he remained in the back of my mind as I tried to figure out his motivation.
This week will make week 10 of being in the #1 position on the sibling list for our adoption, totaling 22 months of waiting all together….needless to say I am beginning to show fatigue. While July and August have been pretty strong months for me, I have also been particularly busy almost every day of the week. I have had little time to focus on much else beside the task at hand for any particular day. While it is sometimes overwhelming to be so busy, I find it to be a blessing in my life right now to keep my mind off our waiting. The times when I have come up for air or been drifting on to sleep it sinks in just how very much I miss our children, and how I grieve the days that I don’t get to spend with them. I haven’t even met them, and I love them so very much.
This morning as I was working my way through my devotional, I thought back to that guy with the weighted-vest. I came across Matthew 11:28–30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 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.
30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
I wonder how many times in our life we allow things to weigh us down? We may or may not choose to add additional weights, but often we don’t take the time to remove the ones that accumulate in our daily lives. These weights don’t necessarily mean that our lives our weighted down with sins, but sometimes the burden of forgiveness, anxiety, or insecurity can lessen our endurance and make us weary. Steven Furtick’s study of Hebrew’s 12 begins by looking at Hebrews 12:1
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.
Furtick talks to the beginning part of this verse that refers to the “large cloud of witnesses” and sheds an interesting perspective on this verse. The author of Hebrews is not referring to those onlookers who are watching us, but instead he is speaking of those people who have come before us and lead by example such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and the list goes on. Furtick goes on to address the second half of this verse saying, “we need to cut weight, or shed those things in our lives that our keeping us from what God has called us to do.” If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and look at the examples that He has placed before us, we will gain endurance to get through difficult situations in our lives.
As I finished my devotional this morning, I had a very powerful few minutes of prayer where I asked God to remove the things that burden my heart. In looking at Matthew 11:28, it speaks of the word “yoke“. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, a yoke is wooden beam that is placed between two oxen or cattle that helps them work together to share the load of whatever their pulling behind them. Typically there is a dominant, or lead oxen that allows the other one to follow the leader. Jesus is saying here that no matter what weight it is were pulling around behind us, what difficult situation were going through, he will walk beside us, better yet, he will take the load and let us follow in his steps.
Often I am guilty of allowing these weights in my life. Most recently I have carried the burden of anxiety and frustration as each day passes without a referral call. Distracted by my busy schedule, I have failed to make adequate time to shed these weights from my life, and, this week I ran low on endurance and began to grow weary. Overtime it becomes overwhelming and makes me want to throw my hands up and cry to Jesus to remove these weights. I lean on verses like Isaiah 40:28-29 when this happens.
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. 29 He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.
We have a God who is willing to carry our burdens, and who will never grow weary or tired. In the weeks to months that lie ahead before we receive our referral, I will continue to pray that God doesn’t allow these weights to creep back into my life. That he gives me strength to endure, and doesn’t let my heart grow weary. To trust in His timing, is to believe that we haven’t received our referral yet in accordance to his will and that he is working on securing our children’s perfect opportunity to be placed into our lives. I pray that you would take a few minutes to listen to this video posted below and allow God to remove the weights from your life. If you are like that crazy runner, who chooses to accept these weights, or you are like so many who accumulate them over time, that you would lean on the one who never grows weary. I pray that you would ask for endurance to run the race, and when adversity comes that you would look to the ones that have come before and completed the race before you. Amen.