In my backyard is a Vitex tree. It blooms beautiful purple blossoms in the springtime. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love that tree – and so do I. My Vitex was only two feet tall when I planted it seven years ago. I knew that it would tend to spread out more like a large shrub, but read that some people would train theirs to grow upright like a small tree. I wanted to plant daylilies and other perennials underneath mine, so this was the route I chose.
Each year I would trim off all of the lower branches and suckers, forcing it to grow upwards with each snip of my clippers. This past Spring’s blooms were glorious – like a purple cloud hovering over my flowerbed. But after the blooms come the large seed pods. Numerous flowers bear numerous seeds, and the Vitex seed pods are heavy. My beautiful Vitex branches began to droop, threatening to crack under the weight.
Once I realized what was happening, an emergency pruning session was enacted. I ran out in the yard with my trusty set of clippers and began relieving the tree of its burden. I filled an entire trash bag with the seed pods, and beside it was a pile of limbs.
When we are bearing the weight of life’s burdens on our shoulders, we tend to droop like the burdened Vitex. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes it’s not easy to give God your burden. You want to keep it to yourself. It may seem that the burden is unfixable, or that maybe your frustration at the situation is all that keeps you going.
I recently have been bearing the emotional burden of someone who wasn’t treating me as they should, and they weren’t living the Christian life that they proclaimed to. I prayed about the situation, but there was one prayer that I refused to pray for them – that this person would be brought back to God. I didn’t think it was possible. This person seemed too far gone in their ways, and perhaps they still are. I just wanted them to stop their wrong actions, maybe with a little Godly judgment on their head for good measure.
The burden of this person and their actions consumed my thoughts and kept me down each day. Finally, it dawned on me. God wanted me to pray for this person the way that I should. It’s not always easy to obey God, but it’s what we have to do. So I painfully prayed what I knew was right, and didn’t ask God to punish this person, but to bring them closer to Him. I prayed that they would love God like I do, and want to obey His will. Praying that prayer was not an easy thing to do, but as I repeated the prayer each day it became easier.
Not long after I began praying for this person, I felt my burden lifting. Now this person still hasn’t apologized or changed their ways very much, but it no longer consumes me. I had to examine my own heart and let go of the hurt and anger (it wasn’t easy and is a continual battle) but bit by bit God has brought me peace about the situation.
|The vitex may bear some scars, but it's burden has been lifted.|
My situation is ongoing, but now a bit more bearable. Matthew 11:30 states “ For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” If you’re not familiar with cattle, a yoke is a wooden beam to join together two oxen. This allows them to work together to pull a heavy load, and to share the weight of the burden they are pulling. One ox might not be able to bear the load alone, but together they can accomplish the task.
|Photo credit: John Gevers (Creative Commons)|
This is what Jesus is saying in the verse. He won’t necessarily remove our burdens like I removed the seed pods from my Vitex, but by giving our burdens to him he will help share the weight so that our burden is tolerable. What burdens can you give the Lord today?
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