As a student, I could wear it on a t-shirt or keep it in my back pocket to pull out as was convenient.
On deputation, I could pack it up and put in the back of our minivan and retrieve it to display alongside our family’s smiling faces and pressed attire.
When leaving the land of my birth, I zipped it up in a 50 pound bag and stowed it away, more burdened by the fragility of my small babies whose worlds were about to be rocked.
On the field, it became something else entirely, too heavy to handle on my own. The burden for the lost and dying. Those that hadn’t heard. I picked it up and put it away often when my residence was in America, but from now on it would be forever with me sitting on my chest and whispering in my ear, even as I slept.
It calls my name from the sides of the streets where naked babies play with a passed out parent on the sidewalk. It grabs my attention from the beautiful views of this land and draws it a darkness for which I can’t craft a comparison. I hear it in ringing bells and blowing seashells as my neighbors lift up their voices in dramatized prayer to their chosen gods.
The burden I shared while raising support for this ministry was real; don’t get me wrong. I want to see the lost of the world won to Christ. At home and abroad. But I was used to living in a country with a lot of Christians, where many people I knew professed Christ and many who didn’t know Him claimed that they did.
Now I live in a country that hates Jesus or else has no knowledge of Him.
Now the burden has a name. She’s my neighbor and friend who moved away before I could clearly communicate the gospel with her in her language. She’s my language tutor who is living in sorrow because of the cost of sin in her life. He’s the landlord who looks to the stars for the answers for all the questions of our hearts. How do I handle that? How do I open my eyes every day in this place and live for His glory? How do I open my mouth and tell of Christ?
My burden is met only by my insecurities, my inadequacies.
It’s heavy. So heavy. And I am discouraged. Weighed down by the enormity of this task.
My Jesus draws my attention away from the darkness and back to the Cross where He conquered sin and death there for every man. Forever. While leaving an example for us to follow:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:21-24).
I’m not meant to carry this burden. Not really. The work has already been done. Because of the finished work of Christ I can share of His worth and what He has done for me. I can teach my babies Who made their hearts and who loves them more than mommy ever could.
I can wake up every day to this darkness in this country, knowing that He has already shown his love for these people in His death and has shown His power in His resurrection. I know He is willing to reconcile these people to Himself, and I know He is able.
My family which is made up of imperfect people is not responsible for the salvation of this country. We will toil and labor knowing that the seed must be sown, but knowing also that it is ultimately the work of Christ that saves sinners.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7).
And as I labor, I can take my burden back the One who carried the heaviest of loads so long ago and take His yoke upon me. Which is, thankfully, light.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).