"Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…
For every man shall bear his own burden."
Galatians 6:2, 5
Sometimes the Lord is gracious to bring the truth of His word alive to us through life examples. I was fortunate to see one of those life lessons unfold during a youth retreat. I had the privilege of watched Chris Riser, the speaker, interact with his six-year-old son as they did activities together. The biggest lesson came as I watched them climb a rock wall. I was near tears when they finished. The scene of them together reminded me of the above verses as well as the relationship we have with our Abba Father.
Josiah began climbing on the easy part of the wall while his father began climbing on the level next to him. At first, they were even and then the dad slowed down a little and let his son get a little above him. Just as Josiah got too high for the spotters to reach him, Chris scooted over vertically and was just underneath his son. He spoke calmly, gently encouraging his son to reach for the next stone, suggesting which stones to step on and which ones to reach for. With his experience and guidance Josiah was able to successfully climb up the wall. At one point there was a really big stretch for the little guy. His dad stretched his arm to the next rock and told him to step on his arm and reach for the next rock up with his hand. For a brief moment the dad bore the total weight of his child. The rest of the way Josiah did well and was able to pull his own weight in the climb. For a few moments the lower part of Josiah's legs were totally hidden by his dad and it was like they were one unit working together.
Josiah totally began the climb on his own with just the instruction he was receiving and spotters. He was fully carrying his own weight. Then his dad became his teacher even though Josiah pretty much did most of the work. When he reached the spot that he could not have gotten past, his dad became his strength and even his rock. After that point, he was off and climbing again. That is the way we are to be in the church. We are each responsible for loving and serving other people and bearing our own responsibilities. There are times, however, when we become weak, hurt, or lack the experience we need to handle things and we need someone to come alongside and help us. It may be our friends, a pastor, a mentor, our church, or a Christian counselor. I have realized that if I am doing my "job" as a youth worker correctly, there will comes a time I am no longer needed. Chris only gave Josiah what was needed so he would gain experience and become stronger and more independent in rock climbing. Sometimes he was quiet, sometimes instructing, and sometimes he was Josiah's strength. He didn't baby him, nor did he leave him to fail.
The other picture I saw in Chris and Josiah's relationship is that he learned a lot about God from His dad. Chris loves rock climbing and does it well. He invited Josiah to start learning it and Josiah took him up on it. Watching Chris on the wall, I realized he had a perspective of the whole wall that Josiah did not have at six years old. He was very calm and would lean back a little and scan the wall and convey to Josiah what he needed to do. He also knew his son and knew what his strengths and weaknesses were and he encouraged him without making him feel like a "loser." If he lost his footing, he guided him so his foot was back on course. The amazing thing was that Josiah listened carefully, trusted his father's advice, and obeyed his instructions. Their relationship is a picture of the way God relates to us and it is a picture of how we should we should respond to God. He has a complete perspective of our lives while we only see the little "rocks" or lack of “rocks” ahead of us. Through His word and His Spirit He guides us through life if we listen like Josiah did. We,too, will be safe if we choose to obey God's voice. When we are weak, He offers us His strength.
Through the community of the church He provides people who help bear burdens that are too heavy for us. We need to listen and obey God like Josiah did. We may need to allow others in on our struggles and let them come along side of us and encourage us with God's truth. When we can admit our fear and our need for guidance, others can impart their courage and wisdom into our hearts. When we are struggling we need to let them hold us accountable. We also need to listen to godly people who speak His truth with open hearts. God is like Chris in that He is upholding us in this life and is our rock when there is nothing to stand on. Even more evident in Chris and Josiah's relationship was love and the fruit that is found in consistent parenting. Several students told me they heard Josiah tell his dad when he thought his dad did a good job on an activity. Josiah had already begun to reflect the loving and encouraging heart of his father. In the same way we should be reflecting our Abba to others by emulating Christ’s example.
Our heavenly Father loves us and is instructing us -- are we, listening intently? He is our rock -- are we standing on HIM?
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us real life examples of your truths. Your word should be our delight and our instruction, please give us ears to hear and hearts to obey. Thank you for your faithfulness to uphold us and keep us from falling. Help us to become people who seek to bless your heart. Amen.