Are You Collecting Spoons?
Oct 30, 2016 03:35AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
In the middle of my van, right behind the driver’s seat, I keep a small crate in which I store items I need throughout the week: two Bible study workbooks, the latest coupon book for BJs, a catalog for The Paper Store, karate belts, and the Junior High Sunday School attendance clipboard. If I am stranded in the cold weather in the next few months, I may not have a blanket to keep warm or a flashlight to light my path, but I can study the Bible, clip coupons, window shop, and impersonate a brown belt!
For about two weeks, whenever I opened the van door, I saw a metal serving spoon poking out of my “car office” crate. It almost seemed to taunt me. For various reasons and meetings, I had been at my church about four times since taking the spoon home to clean after using it for Sunday School, but I kept forgetting about it.
My crate is supposed to be a placeholder for me, a reminder, a way to stay organized. And yet, despite my best efforts to keep everything in its proper place for the right time, that spoon got the best of me. For the life of me, I could not remember to return it to the church kitchen drawer. I held onto it, transported it all over the local area, and
carried something I did not have to.
Know the feeling?
Psalm 55:22, ESV, David singing
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
I don’t know about you, but it usually doesn’t take me long to grab a burden, sling it over my shoulder, and then not know when to put it down again. I love to help people. My heart beats to a rhythm of nonstop advocacy. It’s just how God made me. It’s almost compulsive.
But it’s not always wise to carry something around that doesn’t belong to me—not if I don’t fully understand who is really doing the heavy lifting.
What does the Bible say about this?
Galatians 6:2, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
So, how do we know when we are not to pick something up, we are to help for a season, or we are to put it down after a while?
Honestly, without asking God, we don’t know.
God has been disciplining me in this area because my heart is bigger than what I can handle on my own, or even what He is asking me to do. I’ve discovered something important in this process:
Whenever I take over and get in the way of what God may be trying to do, my pride has grown bigger than my faith.
Is it appropriate for us to help a neighbor in need, a friend in a crisis, a family in pain? Absolutely it is, but we must also be careful not to neglect our own burdens.
Galatians 6:4-5, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
For each will have to bear his own load.In other words, we can’t swoop in and pretend to save the day, waving around our magic wand, and suggesting that we are the answer, well intentioned though we may be. There are at least two very good reasons for this:
- We are not the answer. Christ is. He is the Burden Bearer, as He proved on the cross.
- When we attempt to tote around pieces of someone else’s life that aren’t ours, we are playing God and robbing them of an important truth, one God speaks to:
We have to carry some of it on our own.Burdens serve a purpose in our lives, and to take them from others is not only creating unhealthy codependence but is preventing them from experiencing God’s presence through a difficult trial. There is nothing else like it: God's presence.
I love how grounded King David was in his psalms. Through his own struggles and transparency, he reminds us of who God is:
As we help others, God supports us. We have to remember where our source of strength comes from, who really bears us up.
Psalm 68:19, ESV, David singing
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah
For a time, I was supposed to have that spoon in my custody while I did what I needed to do, what was within my responsibility. But after a while, it was time to return it. I toted it around far longer than I needed to, and all it did was take up more space in my “in-box” while keeping others from benefitting from having a turn with it.
Now, I know that’s a stretch. After all, it’s just a spoon, right? But what are we holding onto longer than necessary? When we drag around many of these “spoons” in our lives beyond their allotted time, we aren’t letting others have a chance to help.
It’s also ridiculously easy to settle into a mentality that dictates that we need to start collecting spoons. Our crates get heavier and heavier until we realize we never gave those items to our Burden Bearer.
On the flip side, if we’ve handed our spoon to another person to help us for a while, after we grow in strength, we need to take it back.
We can never know how mighty and faithful our God is until we trust Him to help us through our personal wilderness.
God definitely sends other spoon holders along the way to help us, but the yoke is so much lighter when we give it to Him.
The only way to really know He can be trusted to see us through again in the future is to
give Him the spoon.
Matthew 11:28-30, ESV, Jesus speaking
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.