It is the least that I can do, to have my dog brought to the Groomer and get sheared like a sheep, lessening the weight of his thick blonde fur all over his body. It's like insulation, and I can't bear to think of how hot he must get, how he can only relieve himself by panting and panting and drinking water. So he's getting clipped today, and Harry will come home looking like a scrawny noodle of a thing but feeling a lot more comfortable. Forget about appearances, here- this is a matter of lightening the load. This is a matter of bringing comfort and relief to the body, and should remind us to do all we can- when we can- to bring comfort and relief to the soul.
Sometimes I suddenly am aware of how easy it is to lighten someone's load. I'll get reminded of this fact periodically, and I'll try to say something to acknowledge someone's battle with something, commending them for being strong in the battle- even if they never meant to be strong.
My daughter, Abby, had the chance, the other day, to write a note to a child in another state who is suffering with cancer. Abby doesn't know this girl, but she immediately tried to make her smile and laugh by writing something humorous, and then she added that she was so sorry that this girl had to go through this suffering. Abby ended the note by quoting part of a song she had just sung in her school's choir- "I'm counting on God, I'm counting on God...". My daughter wanted this girl-she-had-never-met to know Whom to hold on to with all her might- and that she could count on God to take her through the storm.
God has such compassion on those who are heavy laden. It's His heart and His will that our load be lightened, that our burden get rolled off our back. "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken" Ps 55:22. I had heard one time that the best way to get a burden off your back is to do it the way a camel loaded with burdens would do it: they have to kneel down and lower themselves to the ground, and then roll the burden off them. If you're on the ground, you may get dust in your face, you may get stains on your clothes, but that's the place where your burden meets the ground and that's where you can leave that burden, there- on the ground, not on your back.
You have to get lower to see higher, sometimes. You have to get your burden off you in whatever way you can, and who cares if you wind up looking foolish - or looking shorn like a noodle like my dog will be looking. Who cares if people know that you were weeping on your knees or that you were taking a prayer walk, and you had to walk a very long time before you felt a release?
I spent a night, once, literally standing in the dark, standing next to my bed, facing the darkness and quoting from Ephesians, "...And having done all, STAND." I had cast my burden on the Lord, but I felt the weight of it all still, and I decided to battle for that blessed, sweet peace. So I stood there, taking a stand for what God said I could have, my chin jutted out in fierce determination that after I prayed and done everything I knew to do, the one thing I could still do was to take my stand.
And sometimes when you're carrying a burden, you've got to decide if you're supposed to stand and fiercely claim your right to peace in God, or if you should kneel down, get low to the ground, roll that burden off you- before God. Either way, we've got to lighten our load. We've got to be free enough that we can help lighten other people's heavy loads as well. When they ask you how to do it, tell them there's a variety of postures you can take, but that what matters, in the end, is that God sees what posture you take and why. He sees when you call out from the ground and when you're standing and looking up to Him in faith. And He wants to sustain you. He WILL sustain you.
Of that I am sure.