April 22, 2011

something & Everything

One of the most comforting things I have ever heard came to me in a time where very little was comforting at all. I got this little email from a friend telling me this: that she had no idea what to say or do but, she told me, I didn't have to carry my sadness alone. She told me that there were people who loved me who would carry it with me. Words are my favorite for a lot of reasons. Where comfort is concerned, I think words almost always fall short. For once though, they sort of didn't.

In the book of Numbers, Moses is at the end of his rope because the Israelites need too much from him. He says to God, "I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you're going to treat me, put me to death right now - if I have found favor in your eyes - and do not let me face my own ruin."

[Moses just asked to die rather than deal. Can I just say I love that this is God's response:]

The Lord said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone." 

There is a lot of burden. I got a whole degree in counseling for that very reason and I still don't know how to handle it most days. But I read that and I think, yes. Let's bear one another's burdens. Not in a way that makes us all codependent messes with terrible boundaries, but in a way that's the way community should be. Not because I want something from you or because I want to control you or because I want to fix you, but because I love you. Because I have room right now for a little of your junk, so let me carry some for you. We won't ever do it perfectly, but that doesn't mean it's not something.

I think we are called to bear one another's burdens. When I stop to really think about that, when I remember and reflect on my friend's words, I am moved almost to tears at how beautiful that really is. But that verse in Galatians continues: "and in this way fulfill the law of Christ." Today is Good Friday. That passage in Numbers is not insignificant, I think, and Galatians either; in community, we emulate Jesus. But today we reflect and remember and weep because Jesus took all of our sin and suffering and burden to the cross. Not like us - not just a little. Not just when he remembered. Not just what he could handle. Not just for the people he liked best. It was hard and it hurt and it cost something. 

We don't have words extravagant enough to describe that. It's Everything.

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