This setting accentuates the spectacular site of a large shipping vessels making their way through the Great Lake system. When they are empty they sit higher on the water. When they are loaded down, they can seem to skim the surface. Yet they stay on the water. They move almost silently. They displace very little water, even as they move methodically on their course despite carrying between 10,000 tons and 40,000 tons of cargo.
It's mesmerizing to witness the ease and lightness of its movement.
How do they do it? How do they stay afloat despite their own weight, plus all the weight of the cargo?
The short answer (I'm no scientist) is: buoyancy. Which means there is more air on the inside, which offsets the load, and keeps it lighter than the water in which it is placed. This is why a rock will sink but a giant freighter will float. If the ship were filled, using up all the air in the empty chambers and to the top of their cargo holds, it would sink. There is an intentionality to the narrowed fronts and wide body. There is a purpose to the height of the chambers. There is a calculated strategy to understanding how much can be held, how fast the ship can travel and how much should be unloaded before taking on more.
In these days many of us can feel like we're loaded down. Some of us can even feel like we're carrying too much. The invitation of Jesus, in Matthew 11:18-30, is an important reminder:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus doesn't say that he'll lighten the load. Rather, he offers a different way to carry the load. It involves learning to rest. It involves staying connected to him, and moving with purpose, pace and peace that reflect his Kingdom:
"Participating in the Kingdom of God requires ongoing faith in and dependance on the Holy Spirit. This requires an entirely different paradigm for how we think about and plan our (life)."
(The Kingdom Unleashed by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine, p. 235)
Finding a rhythm of rest within each day, each week, each year, and season of life is a key first ingredient. Understanding how to take on more air, to carry the load you've got is a necessary discipline. Jesus would say that we need to learn to live by the Spirit of God (John 3:5-8). The Apostle Paul would reinforce this idea by reminding us of the need to examine our lives that we may be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:15-20). Our attention to this will be evidenced by the way in which we speak to others, and the way in which we are willing to demonstrate the humility necessary to function together with others, in our homes and in all our relationships.
An athlete needs to consistently train to develop greater lung capacity. As a result, they gain more endurance, and a seeming ease at thresholds where others may falter. A ship needs to ensure it keeps a more than sufficient ratio of air within its frame, to ensure it can travel at a consistent rate, carrying not only its own load, but even the loads of others, and for their benefit.
As I reflect on this year, emerging from the weariness of pandemic life, many people have been taking on heavy loads, without broadening their capacity to take on air - to live by the Spirit, so that they can continue to their journey. I have also at times felt the weight of additional burdens, personal, family, friends, work responsibilities. In those times, I am drawn back to what was mentioned above (not always as quickly as I should): I'm learning to adjust my pace, rest more, listen to God through His Word - in smaller sections but with deeper meditation, and then to ask Jesus to help me walk with Him among the people and places He leads.
When able, I try to help others, pointing them to Jesus, to develop greater air capacity, when they can't unload the cargo they carry.
Yes there are days and seasons that I long to travel at noisy, speedboat-like rates. There are days when I would prefer others moved quicker. However, I have also been learning to consider and appreciate the pace at which others are carrying their loads, often silently, even slowly, but consistently with perseverance as they continue to learn from Jesus. It's mesmerizing to watch their consistent, faithful, movement through life.
How are you adapting to carrying extra burdens in this post-pandemic time?
Let me encourage you to consider those who you observe, carrying heavy loads with seeming ease. Ask them how they do it. Learn from them.
How can I be praying for you or supporting you as you learn to expand your air capacity?
These articles are the result of having had the privilege of being involved in various kind of work, ministry and mission over the last 30 years. Since 2001, I have been serving on the pastoral staff of the SEMC in Sarnia, ON. In 2016 - graduated with a Doctor of Ministry in Global and International Leadership from George Fox University: http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/dmin/137/
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