In 2009 I was a wide-eyed, holding the world by the tail, 23 year old graduate from the University of South Florida. With a BA in Business Administration, I felt like I had my whole life ahead of me. What I didn’t know was what actually laid before me: falling in love, marriage, having children, building a thriving business, adopting two puppies, traveling the country, losing family, moving 5 times, and settling in to life as a husband and dad are just the first 10 years since walking across that stage back in 2009 with diploma in hand. 2019 was its own unique year: gaining our second child, moving again, starting a new job, and learning what it truly means to trust GOD in every situation. As the years have passed from 2009 and my responsibility as an adult has grown, I’ve learned that this life can become quite heavy. The weight of being a husband, raising a Godly family, earning money, and navigating the ups and downs of each day felt like they were placed on my shoulders every morning when my feet hit the floor. Many mornings I would stand in the shower and just let the water run over my head hoping that the heat would somehow alleviate the tension that resided between my shoulders. Each year would add more responsibility and with that more weight. I felt like Atlas in greek mythology who was banished by the gods to hold up the world for all of eternity. If this was life, I felt crushed. I remember a distinct moment driving in my car thinking about work, family, and other responsibilities and my chest began to tighten. Not like anything I had ever experienced before, it felt as if an elephant was sitting on my sternum. After a few minutes the pain subsided, but that feeling never left me. I knew what the problem was. It wasn't my health. I had just been to the doctor and everything had checked out fine. This was deeper than physical health. The weight that I had been carrying was slowly crushing my soul. A change needed to be made. But how?
As I write this, the final days of 2019 are fading away and 2020 is fast approaching. My wife and I have been praying about this next year and decade and what direction GOD would take us with Anchor Movement. The more we prayed and talked the more we kept coming back to the theme: “This isn’t my weight to carry.” Valerie and I would find ourselves discussing something, whether it’s the kids or work or bills and we would both just eventually say, “This isn’t our weight to carry.” What was that weight? Everything that was causing me pain, stress, and anxiety in the years before. Jesus knew what it was like to face situations of great stress, fatigue, and anxiety. In the garden of Gethsemane before He was crucified His blood vessels ruptured and He sweat drops of blood because of the mental anguish He was experiencing. Hebrews 4:14-16 in the message version puts it like this:
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG
Jesus literally carried the weight of the world on His shoulders. When He went to the cross, he not only carried all the sins of the world, but He carried the curse of death, hell, and the grave. If He did this for me, why am I worrying about how much money is in my bank account or whether or not certain people like me? Jesus gave this invitation in Matthew 11:28:
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
I like that phrase, “Let me teach you.” Teach me what: how to rest. If I am resting in Jesus than I’m not carrying any of my weights. You can’t lay in bed and do pushups at the same time. It just doesn’t work. In the same way, you can’t rest in Jesus AND carry the weight of your entire life. Too many Christians today, myself included, try to carry all our responsibilities and miss this amazing promise from Jesus. I even sometimes try and justify my stress or anxiety by saying things like, “I’m just working for the Lord” or “ If I don’t do it, nobody will.” But that is not what Jesus is saying in the verse above—He is offering me rest if only I will come to Him.
I love the visualization of this verse and Jesus using a yoke to compare and contrast His burden versus our burden. A yoke is a large wooden harness used to connect two animals for plowing fields. We don’t see this much anymore because we have tractors and advanced technology, but in ancient Israel, yokes were a necessity to be an efficient farmer. GOD showed me something in this verse that I had never seen when I was studying to write this blog. Jesus said come to me and I will give you rest. Have you ever seen an animal take anything off of them? If a horse has a saddle on their back, the only way that saddle is coming off is when the farmer takes it off. As Christians we believe that we need to come to Jesus and give Him our burdens and stress and anxiety, but that is not the picture GOD showed me. Jesus is the one who takes the burdens off of our backs and He puts His burden, which is light and easy, in replacement of all the weights we are carrying. All we have to do is come to Jesus and He does the work. My prayer for you in 2020 and for the years and decades that follow is that you will come to Jesus and let Him carry your weight. Stop trying to navigate or bear the weight you were never meant to carry. Come to Jesus. Let Him carry your weight. Learn to start saying what Valerie and I say when we begin to stress about certain situations, “This isn’t my weight to carry.”
For the next several weeks and maybe even months, Valerie and I want to blog and podcast a series we are calling, “New Year, Transformed You.” Our theme verse is Romans 12:2 which says:
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Romans 12:2 TPT
We are praying that through this series, we all will discover the power in transformation—not just outwardly, but inwardly as well. Jesus has promised us a life in abundance and not just any life—His life. It’s time for Christians to stop living in defeat, dysfunction, and destitution and start living the life Jesus died on the cross so we could have. Some of the topics we will cover will be stress, comparison, finances, serving, giving, and anything else the Holy Spirit gives us. Together we can see the goodness of GOD in our homes, communities, and cities, but it starts with us. Stay tuned!
For many, Mother’s day is a holiday filled with deep emotions, some wonderful and some heartbreaking. On July 20, 2015, my mom unexpectedly passed away and unfortunately, I remember that day perfectly. In my sudden grief, I fell to the floor in pain when my Grandma called my husband that day to deliver the news. I was 25, and never imagined living life without my mom. Losing her was, and still is, hard. I felt robbed. Robbed of time, robbed of memories, robbed of everything that could have been had she not died.
After going to multiple doctors and having various tests done - all to find out I had succumb to grief induced health issues - I knew this was going to be a long road ahead to recover from what should have been a joyous time in our lives. Drew and I were newly married, 2 months in, when our vows were standing the test of tragic loss and pain. Drew was my rock. Day in and day out he walked with me through my nightmare and never gave up on me. As time went on, I had to move forward as well. Time doesn’t stop and sometimes it seems like people are forgotten but thankfully the loss hasn’t been left behind. God see’s and doesn’t forget. He lifts us up even in the pit of despair to bring the comfort only He can.
John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I can attest to not being healed by the peace the world gives because nothing anyone said seemed to make me feel better. I had to find that peace only Christ could give me to heal from such a loss. I had to surrender the grief, fear, pain and despair and trade it for a new joy. I felt guilty moving forward..would my happiness mean she’s forgotten? Would my mom think I didn’t love her any more? No, it meant scripture was being fulfilled and I could put on a garment of praise and thank God for the life I still had left to live despite my loss. I could continue to honor her by moving forward with my life.
I want to encourage those of you who’ve known loss in the same way, there’s so much ahead of you...so much you can’t see yet. God has a beautiful story He is writing and maybe yours can help someone else. If you’ve lost a loved one, I can guarantee they wouldn’t want you to trade in your life to be “dead” here on Earth. They would want you to prosper and find joy again. Your life is a beautiful gift that only you can choose to live. Dear son or daughter, no one else can be you. The world needs more of you. Sometimes we have to lay down our pain to take hold of His peace because it was never meant to be carried alone. It doesn’t mean you don’t still feel sad, it just means you can allow yourself to live again.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“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.”
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