Archive for March 1st, 2019

Exodus 18: A Task Too Heavy

Friday, March 1, 2019

J. James Tissot: Jethro and Moses

You are not acting wisely.  You will surely wear yourself out, and not only yourself but these people with you; you cannot do it alone.

We do not hear much about Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, but what we do hear makes much sense.  Only God is able to serve everyone all of the time; yet some of us act as if we are God.  We behave as if we have limitless energy and infinite empathy; and we forget that we must recharge ourselves.  We neglect our own spiritual, mental and physical heath in the service of others and we are surprised when our body, mind or spirit stalls.

Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, that God may be with you.

Some of us may have learned this lesson early in life or perhaps we have always had the knack for pacing ourselves.  Still, there are times when woes or sorrows or circumstances overtake us; and without our knowing how we sink into sadness or even depression.  When we ask more of ourselves than God does we will find ourselves undone.

We have often heard the phrase that God does not give us something we cannot handle and I have quietly disagreed with that, thinking of those among us who take our own lives.  The level of desperation is enormous for the besieged spirit that finds it can battle no longer.  There are tasks too heavy for us to take upon ourselves, and when this happens our only route of escape is the door that opens to Christ.

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)

Once I was recovering from surgery and my neighbor came across the yard to bring me a dinner in a baking dish for my family and me.  When I politely said that she should not have gone to the trouble – knowing that she had her own family to feed with chores and work to tend to, she wisely replied: “You must allow me to do something for you otherwise you deprive me of my chance to do the right thing”. I remember her words every time I begin to say that I have a job handled, that I need no help, that I can go it alone.  And now we have the words of Jethro as well.

Why do you sit alone?

In the days that run up to a holiday, we can overwhelm ourselves with too many tasks that weary the soul and increase our burden.  When we celebrate a special day, we hope to experience hope and light; yet when we clutter our days with details that take away from the celebration we not only miss the rejoicing, we also sap our own energy.

The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 

When we wake up tired or cannot sleep because we have over-taxed ourselves, we need to ask why we think we must work alone.  Do we find ourselves better than others?  Worse than others?  Outside of our comfort zone?  Overly concerned about details?  Unimpressed with the work of others?  Advent is a time to consider who we are, where we are, what we are doing and how we interact with God and others.  Today we have the opportunity to examine the tasks we have taken on to determine if some of them might be shared with others or with God . . . lest we find ourselves crushed by the weight of a task too heavy.

Image from: http://gorepent.com/2010/11/15/notes-for-exodus-chapter-18/

Adapted from a reflection posted on December 7, 2011.

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