“Who thinks you are the strongest person in this room?” People craned their necks to see who would answer my challenge in this East Asian Fresh Start seminar.
Finally a young man in his early twenties strode up to the front. He told me his name was Chen. Handing him a small water bottle, I asked, “Is this heavy?” Chen shook his head. “It’s very light,” he insisted, hefting the water bottle in his hand. “So do you think you could hold this bottle for a long time?” I prodded. “Sure! No problem,” he grinned confidently.
“O.K. Please hold this water bottle in your right hand and stretch your arm straight out to the side.” Chen followed my instructions, as everyone in the group watched with interest. “Now stand there and hold that bottle until I say you can stop.”
Then I began to tell my story of getting burnt-out as an English teacher in Asia a few years ago. Little irritations kept building as I attempted to push them down, not acknowledging how they were affecting me.
After a few minutes I paused my story to check on Chen. “Are you still doing OK?” “Yes,” he assured me, but it was a bit more strained. “So you can keep going?” He forced a smile. “Of course!”
I continued my story, but stopped again after a couple of minutes, alerted by the audience that Chen’s arm was starting to lower. “Keep that arm straight!” I reminded him. He reluctantly complied.
A few minutes later I paused my story once more. I could tell by the expression on Chen’s face that it was getting more and more difficult to keep his arm up.
“Is the water bottle getting any heavier?”
“YES!” he replied quickly.
“Do you want to continue holding it?” I asked. Chen shook his head.
“Would you like to put it down now?”
“Yes!” he said gratefully.
Relieved, Chen put the water bottle down and rubbed his aching arm and shoulder. “It really didn’t seem heavy at first,” he explained. “I thought I could handle it. But the longer I held on to it, the heavier and heavier it became!”
Are you holding on to small hurts, little irritations or minor disappointments? Mild frustrations can lead to depression, burnout, or explosive rage if not dealt with! Don’t keep holding on to those things that steal your joy and your peace. Lay them down! Give them to Jesus! He wants to give you peace and rest in exchange. Begin to pour out your heart to Him today.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”