I went along for the ride on our mission trip to Plainfield, to give out hats and gloves on the street. It’s one of my favorite things to do in December, and this year I made sure to stand close by the tables, to watch the crowd of thankful people receive our gifts.
One man, who had also been taking in the scene, walked over to me and asked, “Why are you doing this?”
He had a look of disbelief on his face. I think I must have had the exact same look on mine.
I hadn’t anticipated questions, and of that sort no less! And so, unprepared, I gave him the administrative answer: “Well, a member of our church, who worked here as a police officer, told us about the need…”
When did I get so spiritually…dull?
Twenty-some years ago, a coworker asked me a related question: “Why are you smiling all of the time?” It was as if she was annoyed with me – I mean, what right did I have? The responsibilities of family and work were weighing heavily on her.
I didn’t hesitate, but shared my faith in Jesus with her eagerly and freely, telling her about how He was changing my life and about His great saving love, and His nearness in His Word. Back then I brought my Bible to work, and I just opened it up and invited her in.
It was so easy…back then. What’s changed? Why do the questions seem so hard now?
In my early 20’s, I was full of energy and compassion, and relatively free of responsibility. Since then I’ve been expending my resources in marriage and parenting, keeping house, helping people in need, and working in various ministries at church.
I guess at times all of that tires me out and, well, weighs me down.
Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work…and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). He also said, “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). There is some key insight in these seemingly conflicting statements, and if I just had more time to look into them…
“Come to me,” Jesus said, “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:29). He meant it as an invitation, but I don’t think it’s optional.
Sin and suffering aren’t the only things that weigh us down. The administration of our Christian duties can become a burden too, when we forget the point of it all.
Why am I doing it all? So that I can answer that very question! For the opportunity to answer.
Only Jesus can help me see that clearly again. He frees me. He lifts me up above all that I do, and at the same time re-engages me in it.
The questions aren’t hard. What’s hard is setting everything aside long enough to come to the only One who makes us able to answer them.