By Alan Smith
I read once about a missionary who was living in
Africa. He was disturbed over something he was seeing.
The women walked around with heavy loads of wood piled on their
backs. Their husbands, on the other hand, carried nothing more
than a walking stick and walked several yards in front of
them. It was considered an honor for the women to carry these
heavy loads for their husbands.
Feeling sorry for them, this missionary saw a
need for some wheelbarrows. So he sent a telegram back to the
United States, ordering 200 of them to be shipped immediately.
When they arrived, he showed the women how to load the wood in the
A few weeks later, he returned to the village to
find the wheelbarrows all parked in a neat row -- unused. He
asked, "Why aren't you using them?" One woman explained,
"Well, you see, when we got the wheelbarrows loaded and all of that
up on our backs, they were just too heavy!"
That incident suggests the way a lot of people
have experienced religion. It holds out a promise to them of a
fuller, richer life where all their problems will disappear.
In reality, it just brings additional burdens -- one more thing to
do, one more thing to worry about.
That's the way, in fact, that the Pharisees saw
religion -- a list of rules to be kept, a pile of commands that they
saw as their responsibility to enforce. Jesus rebuked them,
saying, "You load people down with burdens they can hardly carry,
and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." (Luke
But Jesus offered something that the Jews found
nowhere else - a relief from those burdens.
"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
Do you find that religion is a burden for you, or
have you discovered the "rest" that Jesus intends his followers to
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and
minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC,
may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org