"Take Your Burden to the Lord and LEAVE IT THERE" by Rev. Kathy Sides (Preached at Fort Des Moines UMC )

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1 "Take Your Burden to the Lord and LEAVE IT THERE" by Rev. Kathy Sides (Preached at Fort Des Moines UMC ) Two monks on a pilgrimage came to the ford of a river. There they saw a girl dressed in all her finery, obviously not knowing what to do since the river was high and she did not want to spoil her clothes. Without more ado, one of the monks took her on his back, carried her across and put her down on dry ground on the other side. Then the monks continued on their way. But the other monk after an hour started complaining, "Surely it is not right to touch a woman; it is against the commandments to have close contact with women. How could you go against the rules of monks?" The monk who had carried the girl walked along silently, but finally he remarked, "I set her down by the river an hour ago, why are you still carrying her?" ("Two Monks" by Irmgard Schloelg "The Wisdom of Zen Masters, from Chicken Soup for the Soul) It would be great if we were all like the monk who carried the girl across the river: able to set our burdens down and keep on walking, worry-free. But I suspect that at least some of us are more like his companion: inclined to carry burdens, either others' or our own, that we should have set down a long time ago. Well att least I know that I am like that. Sometimes I need to be reminded that there is no need for me to be weighed down by burdens, because there is someone who wants to take them from me. Not only do I have a God who wants me to take my burdens to him, I have a God who is more than able to handle those burdens. So this morning, as is the case lots of times, I'm preaching what I need to hear. But you're all welcome to listen to me talk to myself. I'm going to sing to myself, too, because as most of you already know, so often I find that there are hymns that express my thoughts and feelings much more powerfully than any words I could come up with. There are three particular hymns that express some of what I (and maybe some of you) need to hear every once in awhile. When we come to that part I'd like all of you join in, and while I'm singing to me, you sing to you. Most of us, or probably even all of us, carry burdens at one time or another. Maybe like the monk in the story, we carry burdens of disapproval, guilt or even shame over something that we or someone else have said or done. Or maybe we carry a burden of worry or fear over something that has happened, or something that's going to happen, or even something we think might happen. Perhaps our burden is a burden of sorrow because we've lost someone we loved, or a burden of a heavy heart over a dream that hasn't come true that we just can't let go of. Or we may bear any of so many other burdens. Whatever they might be, so many times we shoulder those burdens and stagger under the weight of them when there is another option. And that is to take our burdens to the Lord, place them in God's hands and let him carry them for us. 1

2 We have a God who cares for us, who listens to the cares and cries of our hearts, who wants us to carry our hurts and heartaches, our burdens to him. This is expressed so well in "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", on page #526. We need to remind ourselves of the privilege that is ours through prayer; the privilege of taking our burdens to the Lord and trading our pain for his peace. The words are so true: O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Let us sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" together. #526 What a Friend We Have in Jesus words by Joseph Scriven What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there. Now, I know that even if we believe in God's care for us, and believe that God listens to us, that we can go to him in prayer, it isn't always as easy as it ought to be to just turn your cares over to God, to take your burden to the Lord. Part of the problem is that most of the time we humans are just too independent and selfsufficient for our own good. 2

3 It's as though there is some little voice inside us telling us that we don't need help. Most of us never quite outgrow the stubborn "I'll do it myself" attitude we developed as a two-year-old. Or sometimes, even if we might like help, we tell ourselves that it's just not right to accept help. Somehow there is a part of us that believes that if we have a problem or a burden, it's our problem, our burden, and it's up to us to struggle through the best we can. I suppose if we didn't have any choice, any better option, that we could live with that. A lot of people do. But God has offered us something more than that. God has offered us a better way, a better life than one in which we are burdened and struggling. Jesus said, "I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly", and I've never heard anyone define an abundant life as a life in which we are weighed down and worried, burned-out and burdened. We cannot experience the kind of life that we are offered through Jesus Christ if we insist on holding on to our worries and burdens. Because they take up so much of our heart and life that there's no room for the good things God wants us to have. That is why we are instructed in God's word to give our cares, our burdens, our anxieties, over to God. Psalm 55:22 says: "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you". And 1 Peter 5:7 says: "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." It's only when we've taken our burdens to the Lord, allowed him to lift them from us, that our hearts will have room for what he longs for us to have: joy, wholeness, abundant life in Jesus' name. One of the hymns that never fails to touch me is "Spirit Song", on page #347. The words invite us to turn over to Jesus all that holds and hurts us, and receive in its place the life he has to give: O let the Son of God enfold you with his Spirit and his love. Let him fill you heart and satisfy your soul. O let him have the things that hold you, and his Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life and make you whole. Jesus, Jesus, come and fill your lambs Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. O come and sing this song with gladness as your hearts are filled with joy. Lift your hands in sweet surrender to his name. O give him all your tears and sadness; give him all you years of pain, and you'll enter into life in Jesus' name. ( Spirit Song, words by John Wimber) Let us sing "Spirit Song", and as we sing may we open our hearts to the Spirit and love of Jesus Christ. 3

4 We need to take our burden, whatever that may be, to the Lord. But as you'll see from the title of the sermon that that's only half of it. Unfortunately, the other half is something we often find even harder to do. And that is to Leave It There. Sometimes we do take our burden to the Lord. We lay our worries and cares, our fears and failures before him. But somehow we just can't seem to walk away and leave them there. We find ourselves turning back around and picking them up again. A few weeks, a few days, or even a few minutes later, we're back, picking up that burden and shouldering the load again. If you think about it, that's the same as saying, "Sorry God, but I just don't trust you to take care of this for me. If it sounds harsh, remember, I'm preaching to myself, here. Sometimes we treat God like a child or excuse me men, like a husband who doesn't know what he's doing or at least doesn't do it fast enough to suit us. There are times that I ask one of the kids to do something for me, and half-way through the task I decide they can't do it, or they are making a mess of it, so I take it back. "No, that's not the way, just let me do it." And any number of times I saw my mother ask my dad to do something only to turn around and do it herself because he didn't do it fast enough or just the way she would have done it. OK, I confess I might have even done that to Earl. Once. Or twice. Most of the time the people we treat that way don't deserve it. They would do just fine if we would give them a chance. And most certainly God doesn't deserve to be treated that way. If God can create the world, don't you think he can handle your problems? If God loved you enough to come into the world in the form of Jesus Christ and die for you, don't you think he loves you enough to bear your burdens for you? Yet, we lay our burdens, our dreams, our desires before God, praying for God to take them and do with them what he will, and then we turn around and pick them all back up again. And when we do that, we're saying to God. "Never mind, God, I'm afraid you might make a mess of this, or you might not do things exactly the way I want them done, and I know you're not going to take care of this as quickly as I want it taken care of. So, thanks anyway God, but I'll just take these back, I'll just see to these things myself." How rude, how ungrateful, how faithless can we be? And yet that's the way we treat God when we struggle with whatever burdens us instead of taking it to the Lord and then walking away and leaving it to his care. I know it's not easy. But if we truly trust God, if we believe in Jesus' words that the God is a God who loves his children and wants to give us good things, if we believe that the God who cares enough to feed the birds of the air and clothe the lilies of the field loves us and will take care of us, then we need to act like it. We need to quit dragging around our dreams, hanging on to our heartaches, carrying our concerns, bearing our burdens. We need to take them all to the Lord who loves us and leave them in his care. 4

5 It is said that the songwriter Charles Albert Tindley was visited by a man who was a constant worrier. After listening to the man a while, Tindley told him, "My advice to you is put all your troubles in a sack, take 'em to the Lord, and leave 'em there." He put that advice into the song, "Leave It There" The song advises: Leave it there, leave it there, If you trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out; He will make a way for you, and will lead you safely through, In closing, let us sing "Leave it There", on page #522. As we sing the words may we have the joy that comes from knowing that we have a God who truly cares for us. A God we can trust. A God who is able to bear whatever burden we may be carrying. And whatever it may be, may we have the trust and the faith to take our burden to the Lord and leave it there. Amen. Leave it There by Charles Albert Tindley If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold, And you have to get along with meager fare, Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird; Refrain: Leave it there, leave it there, If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. If your body suffers pain and your health you can t regain, And your soul is almost sinking in despair, Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal; When your enemies assail and your heart begins to fail, Don t forget that God in heaven answers prayer; He will make a way for you and will lead you safely through. When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on, And your body bends beneath the weight of care; He will never leave you then, He ll go with you to the end. 5

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