Lightening the Load

Author | Steve

Three weeks ago I resigned my job…without another job lined up. It wasn’t just a job, it was (and still very much is) my calling. I have been a pastor for almost twelve years; worked in the church since 1995. It was one of the scariest leaps I’ve ever made in my life because it wasn’t a leap I was making alone. Five other people were jumping right behind me. Five people I love dearly. We’ll talk more about how God brought us to that jumping as this journey unfolds I’m sure. But for now, I want to share something interesting about the leaving process.

Every new adventure starts with a leaving. You have to leave something to go to the new. At the core of my faith is a daily leaving: leaving behind the lies I believe about myself and the world around me, leaving behind my rebellion against my Creator and Lord, leaving behind my shame and guilt, and instead, being led into a new song, a resurrection life fueled by my resurrected Jesus. What I hadn’t realized was just how much of my life was about clinging to old things. Beautiful, meaningful old things.

When Jamie and I very clearly heard God calling us to this time of waiting on Him before going to the next thing, we also heard Him clearly calling us to lighten our load. At first I thought He was just inviting us to take some time off, to be refreshed by Him, to give us a renewed energy for His gospel mission in the world. I still believe He has these things in mind, but His lightening is a bit bigger than mine.

After much time in prayer and in His Word together, it was becoming obvious that God was calling us to give away much of what we had accumulated over the years. Cleaning out my closet was a little embarrassing. I had way more than one person needs. But, this was easy. It was the important stuff that was hard: a piece of art I made in college, a miniature canoe that was the groomsmen’s gift from my buddy’s wedding (sorry Mike), a beer stein from another good friend’s trip to Germany, my Martin Luther bobble-head from my ordination! These ebenezers told stories, marked anniversaries, and pictured enduring relationships. How could I ever part with these?

Then it dawned on me, all of the people who gave me these were in themselves, gifts from God. And in almost every case, I was still in touch with them (except for the occasional one who is resting in the Lord awaiting Jesus’ return in glory). Suddenly, these valuable items became a way for me to tell my current friends how much they mean to me. Each meaningful piece blossomed into a new story as I gave it away to my Katy, Texas friends – the people I served alongside for just two short years.

My joy was multiplied as God lightened my load! I never would have expected it. The math doesn’t work, but I guarantee it’s what He did!

We’re still trying to lighten our load down to what fits in our Suburban and a trailer. It has not been easy. I’m convinced Jesus is using our life as a tangible metaphor – like He did with Jeremiah. Our lives get so weighed down with so much – some of it downright evil, some of it beautiful and meaningful – but in either case, weight that causes us to stop moving. To stop trusting. Now don’t get me wrong, physical markers of important events and relationships are awesome! But over time, these very important things can weigh us down, and keep us from seeing God at work in our present day. (Don’t believe me? Read 2 Kings 18:4.)

For most of us its pretty easy to think of throwing out the crap in our lives, even if its difficult to actually do. But what are the “good things” that have become weights that keep you from answering God’s call on your life? Be careful here. Don’t do this alone. And don’t be careful either – be courageous to trust God when He wants to lighten your load. It will be a freaking scary and amazingly beautiful thing!

~ Steve

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13 thoughts on “Lightening the Load

  1. I am praying for you and your family. Thank you for being a part of my CrossPoint family I am looking forward to reading where GOD Is leading you and your family.

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  2. “Then it dawned on me, all of the people who gave me these were in themselves, gifts from God.” Love this!! Focus on the person instead of the item, because, guess what? The relationship with the person is in your heart and your head, which is always with you, no matter where you go!! AND it takes up less room in that trailer, too! Love you – MOM

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  3. Be encouraged: my family and I have walked that road, too, brother, albeit in perhaps in reverse from you: from the profit-driven business world into dual unemployment, and now for the last several years later into full-time Called and Ordained LCMS ministry. What a ride.

    And, just today I also literally threw out quite a bit of expensive junk I enjoyed but frankly had been weighing me down (aka idols); I’d be lying if I said that process were easy, but the load is indeed lighter when we give all our stuff back to Jesus, including and especially our sins, struggles, and less-than-sanctified selves. God’s peace and blessings on your journey with the Lord; He is with you and so are we.

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    • Don,
      Thanks for sharing. And you are so right about giving our stuff back to Jesus – we give Him our sins to bury, and when we give Him back the blessings He has so freely given to us, they become true blessings not only to us, but to the world. I’ve said for a while now, financial stewardship is not about 10%, but about honoring God with the whole 100%. I’m a both nervous and excited about God growing me in this area over the next few months.
      May God fill you with courage and peace,
      Steve

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  4. I am awed by the similarity of what you said here to the process going on in our lives, although we are far from being limited to a car and trailer! As we contemplate moving in May, God is telling me “get rid of it” and I am struggling to figure out what and how–but eager to unload this heavy stuff. Of course, the pile includes inherited things from parents, belongings from kids who need a place to store stuff, and the accumulations of 31 years and four kids. Your story is inspiring me to walk the walk…
    Thanks SO much for sharing it!

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    • Thanks Mom. I’m sorry to be taking your firstborn away, but you know that when the Lord calls, you have to drop your nets and go. We love you and appreciate your support more than you will ever know. Thanks for loving us through it all,
      Steve

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  5. I have done this kind of thing several times in my life. Once I had taken a job half a continent away and reserved a giant U-Haul to get my so important things there. I went to church and the gospel was “shake the dust from your feet” and “take nothing for the journey.” I went home and looked around and called my friends and said, “If I have anything you want, come and get it, because everything left is going to Goodwill.” Then I used the giant U-Haul to take the rest to Goodwill and traded it in for the smallest trailer U-Haul has and just packed the basics. We went to the new place in “sleeping bags on the floor” mode. Now here’s the real kicker. Six years later when it was time to move to another city, I divested again. The people who took my stuff that time told me they furnished the homes of two Hmong immigrant families with what I gave away that time. It’s easier to hear the voice of the Lord when I am not surrounded with superfluous things.

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