"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’"
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1952, p. 155.
I went to the dentist the other day, and to my chagrin, discovered that the tooth which was bothering me didn’t merely need a new filling, it needed a root canal and crown. But when the dentist got to work on my tooth a week later he said, "I don’t think it needs a root canal after all. Let’s just prepare it for the crown and we’ll see how things go." I was relieved. That was six hundred dollars or more back in my pocket.
Sometimes we approach Christ like the dentist. We hope he won’t ask too much of us. We hope his solution to our problems will be easy. But as C. S. Lewis says, Christ’s solution, his way, is both harder and easier. Harder because he wants the whole tooth out, and the process of taking it out is painful, but also easier because he wants to give us a new tooth, a new self that will never run into the same problems again. In fact, he wants to give us his own, perfect nature.
Similarly, we are grateful for the fact that Christ wants to bear our burdens for us, but we stupidly think there are some burdens we don’t need him to bear. When we add the burden of the past, its guilt and its shattered dreams, to the burden of today, it is too much to bear. But likewise, when I add the burden of tomorrow, all my worries and hopes for the future, to the burden of today, it also is too much to bear. And then there are days when even the burden of the present is too much to handle. It is then that I finally realize Jesus wants me to hand ALL of my burdens over to him–the ones that are too heavy and even the ones I think I can carry–all of them– all my hopes, my dreams, my cherished memories, my guilt, my regrets, as well as my present tasks and relationships. He wants to carry it all with me and for me. Handing all those burdens over to him seems hard at first, but letting him carry them is actually easier in the end.
Jesus says, "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." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Prayer: Father, take all of my burdens, the burden of my past, present and future; carry it all for me, because it is too much for me to bear. Help me, in turn, to take on the yoke of Jesus and the simple burden of serving you and pleasing you today, because that burden is perfectly suited to me. In fact, it is very light, for you help me to bear that burden by the power of the Holy Spirit living in me. Thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.