The story is told of a man who met God in a valley one fine day. God asked this man to complete a task for him – to pull a wagon with three stones in it to the top of the hill. The man eagerly agreed, happy for the opportunity to serve the Lord in this way. Following God’s specific instructions, the man set off on his journey. Along the way, three friends stopped and asked him to carry a small load of stones to the top of the hill, since he was already on his way. The man agreed to help his friends and loaded the additional stones into his wagon. Soon the journey became arduous and painful and the man found himself resentful that he had to carry such a heavy load. Why had God given him a burden greater than he could bear? As he prayed, God came to his side. Noticing the extra load in the wagon, God asked him where these stones had come from. The man explained that he was helping his friends by carrying their burden for them. God began to unload the extra weight until only the original load remained. Then God gently said, “Let others shoulder their own belongings. I know you were trying to help, but when you are weighted down with all these cares, you cannot do what I have asked of you.” The man realized the great freedom he now had to finish the job God had given him to do and he completed the journey to the top of the hill with great joy.
Sometimes when I come to the end of the day feeling exhausted and emotionally burned out, I wonder why life feels this way so often. I love being in ministry- it is a passion of my heart. I love listening and loving God’s people as they carry the burdens of their lives. But if my heart begins to feel resentful and I am losing the joy of the Lord, it is time for me to look in my wagon and see what I am hauling around that God did not ask me to carry. When I pray for spiritual discernment and then remove the extra burdens I have added, the true freedom and joy God wants me to experience returns.
How about you, friend? What’s in your wagon? Have you checked lately? Perhaps some extra burdens have crept into your wagon that others have placed there, not God. Allow God to help you remove what He has not given you so you can have joy in the journey doing what God has asked, for as He said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
(Story adapted from “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World”, by Joanna Weaver. Published by Waterbrook Press, 2002.)