Several weeks ago,
I was in a parade for the first time in my life . . .
The nose of the award-winning Perry Pallet float
(note ribbon and trophy)--
and a lesson on triumph at home.
When the idea was hatched to enter Perry Pallet in the celebrated Old Settler’s Parade, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never been a part of a parade before; I don’t know if I’ve ever even been a spectator at such an event. True, I have cherry memories of watching the Rose Parade on television at Grandma’s house. She kept all of us overnight for New Year’s festivities, fed us fancy food, and let us watch flower-covered floats roll down Colorado Avenue via her color screen.
But this is Ferndale, not Pasadena. I’ve laughed that our farm town is the “next New York”: You might be able to buy fresh sushi day or night in the Big Apple, but we’ve got a grocery store (that sells fresh sushi) open 24/7. Even so, I had to admit that I didn't expect multi-thousand dollar floral displays or technological wonders promenading on Main Street.
Our float? Double drop trailers towed by a handsome Kenworth truck. Our place in the parade? Just one vehicle behind Jazzerciser’s dancing to music blaring from a pickup truck. (If they weren’t embarrassed, I could have felt it for them—middle-aged women in exercise suits performing cardio-antics all the way down the parade route.)
Why God gives us burdens
More than once we've discussed power in our home. Horsepower. How much can a vehicle pull? It's a good question, and my boys come by such curiosity honestly. I probably asked the same thing of my dad, who probably asked it of his dad, . . .
But as I've pointed out, the ability to do a job is not dependent on horsepower alone. That horsepower has to make connection with the ground—through traction—or the result is just a bunch of noise.
We hitched thirty-six combined horsepower (three 12-horsepower lawnmowers) to a pile of brush and confirmed the veracity of my assertion.
Lots of rumble and some old-fashioned yelling couldn't get the brush all the way to the bonfire pile.
What those little tractors needed was weight—a burden to press them down to the ground, to help the tires bite into grass and earth.
In this case, Melissa, Uncle Joel, and I provided needed ballast—and with the added weight the three lawnmowers dragged their load the last few critical feet.
Ever wonder why God gives you burdens? They feel like hindrances, things that drag you down, slow you down, hold you down. Things that keep you from getting the job done, from going where you need to go, from moving with speed and freedom.
And, in one sense, they are.
Paul begged God to release him from the burden of his "thorn" in the flesh. Each time, God denied the request saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).
"Made perfect?" What does that mean? God's has all power; there's nothing He cannot do. No dynomometer can measure the horsepower of His infinite supply. But God wants His power to gain traction in our lives.
And the way He does that is through our weakness—through burdens that push us to the ground and remind us of our utter inability.
Weighted down, pressed beyond ourselves, we're prepared to connect with the with the power of God. "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).
Let's face it, adult bodies hanging off the back of those mowers gave them a whole lot more to carry. We put far more pressure on those tires and gave the suspensions a workout.
But the added burdens put thirty-six horsepower to work.
Why that burden in my life—your life? Consider what God will do when His power gains traction in our lives.
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ will rest upon me"
(II Corinthians 12:9).
© August 2011 by Robert G. Robbins
Evening light sifted though the neighboring trees as the boys and I tossed a football back and forth last night, working to get a good spiral, attempting to catch it on the other end. The boys taught me more than they knew . . .
We shouted and laughed and tried again and again. And in the process, we
enjoyed one another and the shared concentration on a ball in motion.
The difference between opportunity and attack is in the nature of the one who
sends it, in the intent with which it is sent, and in the character of the thing
itself. In life, its often hard to distinguish between a “football to catch” and
a “missle attack.” Earthbound eyes aren’t sufficient for such a task.
Standing at the doorway to a new adventure, our only recourse is to see if it
comes from God. If He sent it, He will make it good, however fearful or hurtful or distressing the thing itself may seem. Unlike football, we keep our eyes on the Sender rather than the thing sent—and He works out all the rest.
"And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink,
nor be worried.
For all the nations of the world seek after these things,
and your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek His kingdom,
and these things will be added to you.
Fear not, little flock,
for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
© August 2011 by Robert G. Robbins