Monday, December 20, 2010

Psalms? Really?!?

I've never been a big fan of psalms. The lyrics I've read there have never really spoken to me, so as a general rule I study our hymns--which I love--instead of the book of Psalms. However, this month, I found a psalm that touched me. And it did it in a major way. So while this is a little personal, I post it here because even now two weeks after I first wrote this, I feel immersed in peace when I read back over these words.

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee" (Ps. 55:22).

Cast. Defintions (from New Oxford American Dictionary):
  1. "throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction." I like the term "forcefully." It's not enough to simply set my burden down. Nor is it something that should be placed gently on a shelf, easily within reach should I want it again.
  2. "discard." I like this definition because it implies that which is being cast is worthless, or at least that its value less than the effort of hauling it with me constantly. Thus, when I discard it, I will be happier.
  3. "shed (skin or horns) in the process of growth : the antlers are cast each year." While all of these definitions are accurate, this last one is the most revelatory. I am in a "process of growth." I repent to become, not to restore. Thus, by shedding my burden I am becoming a new man in Christ.
thy burden. I find it interesting that this is singular. To me, this is significant for either of two reasons. First, I can only focus on one issue at a time. While I am a complex, 4D character, my attention can only handle one item at a time. Hence, when I am tempted, I have to consciously redirect my focus to my Savior. Focusing on the temptation/burden, or even focusing on avoiding the temptation, is just that, a focus on the temptation. Rather, by focusing on my Savior, he occupies the whole of my thoughts. To be sure, Satan tries to distract me, even in midst of my scripture study, but if I refuse to be distracted, there is little that he can do. This also highlights why writing is an effective and necessary part of my scripture study: it automatically forces me to focus, to process my thoughts in a linear format.

Second, the Lord doesn't want to accept little bits of me, one at a time. He wants all of me. And He is willing to and capable of taking all of my negative qualities at once; that is, he can accept me and love me now, as seriously flawed as I am. Then, together, we can address and remove all of my rough edges.

upon the Lord. Not to the Lord. This burden is big. It makes me stoop to carry it. It deforms my walk and will cripple my body. My burden made "even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (D&C 19:18). But because He already suffered it, He can take it from me. He can heal me, and I don't have to worry about the hurt it will cause Him.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

thy burden vs. ye that labour and are heavy laden. Burdened and heavy laden are roughly equivalent, but the Matthew scripture has the additional qualification of "ye that labour." And I don't think this verse just refers the work of carrying my burden. The Lord wants me to be accomplishing something. And it's in the process of achieving a separate goal that I become aware of my own limitations. The injunction to labor, then, is a catalyst to self-awareness.

he shall sustain thee vs. I will give you rest. These appear to be two separate promises. Does someone at rest need to be sustained? In the following Matthew verses, the Lord continues by saying "Take my yoke upon you...and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The rest He promises me isn't a removal of all burdens, which is how I would define a rest, but a trading of my burden for His. He is concerned for the salvation of all people around me. I am concerned with a much smaller circle - mostly me, but also my family and to a lesser degree extended family and friends. And yet, in connection with taking His yoke, the Lord renews the promise of rest. But this rest is for my soul. My soul. My soul. When I become concerned for others, I won't worry about myself so much and I will be at peace.

So He's offering me a deal. I can take the time and energy and worry I devote to my burden and instead devote that same time and energy and worry to Him. And in this process, He promises me that the guilt I feel now will be replaced with peace.

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