Abide in Me says Jesus. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be, as it were, rooted and planted in Me. Do this and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in you. –J.C. Ryle, pastor and author
Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” Genesis 5:28-29 (NASB)
The name Noah sounds similar to the Hebrew word for rest, and through his story we find yet another Old Testament illustration of a New Covenant truth. How daunting the work must have been! How heavy his concern for those around him! And yet, for dozens of years he continued the work in obedience to God.
It is difficult to know if the passing of his father (Lamech) a few years before the flood was an added weight, or a relief—perhaps a measure of both. Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, died the year of the flood. We don’t know if he perished in the deluge or if he died a natural death before the flooding began. Regardless of the timing, what heaviness and pain Noah must have felt when the flooding rains began to fall!
These were by no means the sum total of Noah’s concerns. Due to its size, construction of the ark would have presented significant difficulties. Further still, how was he to gather all of those animals and enough food to feed them for an unknown period of time? And what about closing the door of the ark? Who knows how many sleepless nights the poor guy spent trying to figure out how he would close that stupid door! In the end, God intervened and closed the door for him.
The God of Our Peace
The God of our peace calls us to cast all of our burdens on Him as He brings us safely through the destruction and wickedness around us. Don’t be fooled into thinking that how we handle a sin-filled environment has little meaning—our response to such adversity matters a great deal.
It seems to me that most of us err toward being either irresponsible or overly responsible. Those who are irresponsible undoubtedly will reap the negative consequences of their neglect, but the other extreme is unhealthy as well. Our natural tendencies toward controlling our lives, circumstances, and the people around us will lead us to carry burdens never intended for our shoulders. Such behavior may on the surface leave an appearance of sacrificial nobility, but it will bear the fruit of death nonetheless.
By burdening our shoulders with weights we were never intended to carry, we exhaust ourselves both physically and spiritually.
Surrendering our loved ones into God’s capable hands will benefit them much more than we realize. He loves them more perfectly than we ever could, and by relinquishing them into His wise care, we give Him the freedom to change their hearts and direct their steps. If we refuse to let go, we will hinder the Father from working in their lives. I can’t begin to tell you how many women I have met who, after years of trying to convert their husbands, finally threw their hands up in the air and surrendered them fully to God, only to see those men come to Christ shortly thereafter.
The Prince of Peace
We have no way of knowing how Noah handled the burdens he was tempted to carry, but we do know that our heavenly Father understands our struggles and that He sent Jesus as an answer to our needs. Isaiah prophesied that the government would “rest on His shoulders” and that He would be called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The connection between the two is profound!
Letting go of control means rolling our burdens onto His broad, more-than-capable, and always willing shoulders. Taking time to surrender our responsibilities and cares to God each morning—and throughout the day for that matter—helps to facilitate the coming of God’s life-giving kingdom, enabling us to labor from a foundation of peace and emotional rest.
Are physically and emotionally exhausted? Whether we speak of the burdens of today or tomorrow, the weight of the load belongs to God. He will give us the grace we need to navigate desolate territory as we obediently surrender the weight of our concerns into His skillful hands.
This post is drawn from Chapter Thirty-Two of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers