"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
New York City is alive with the late fall air. Faith stands next to me, her blonde hair blows across her face just as the carriage pulls in front of us.
We flew to the city to stay with friends and celebrate Faith's birthday. During this entire trip I've felt a nagging sense of anxiety and worry over what's going on back home. It isn't one thing in particular, but I can't shake the heaviness. I clench my jaw and know I'm carrying around a sense of responsibility to manage things outside of my control.
It's our turn to ride. We get the carriage pulled by white horses, a detail I feel compelled to mention because it seems the ones pulled by white horses are more important than the ones pulled by regular brown horses.
The two girlfriends who are with us live here in the city. Though they roll their eyes over the cliché they've become by hanging out with us (A carriage ride through Central Park? Really must we?) they love us enough to climb up and squeeze tight into the red velvet covered benches.
The black bag on my shoulder is packed to nearly unzippable extremes with my camera, wallet, extra gloves and bottle of water. It's heavy, and my right shoulder aches beneath the weight of it.
I plop it down on the floor of the carriage just as the wheels begin to move.
Faith laughs at something the driver says. I watch as she throws back her head and claps her small, gloved hands, my bag sitting at her feet.
I remember a story I heard a long time ago about a horse and buggy and a man with a heavy load. The man climbs into a horse-drawn buggy and keeps his pack on his back once he sits down.
When asked if he would like to remove it, he answers, "Oh no, I couldn't do that. I wouldn't want the horse to have to work so hard. I'll just carry it myself."
I can't help but smile. I can see the ears of the horses in front of me, their heads bobbing up and down carrying me, my girlfriends...and my heavy bag.
I never once thought to keep my bag strapped to my shoulder so the horses wouldn't have to carry the load. That would be needless, as they were already doing the work. Why should I do it, too?
Matthew 11:28 comes to mind. Jesus issues an invitation to the weary, the burdened, the heavy-laden. He offers rest from heavy burdens to those of us who insist on carrying bags on carriage rides.
The clip-clopping of horse hooves tap out a gentle rhythm as we ride. My friends chat and laugh, yellow leaves swirl out from underneath us, and I feel a shift inside my heart.
The horses aren't just carrying my bag. They're carrying me.
We have a God who can be trusted with not only our burdens, but also ourselves. He sees and cares and notices.
He will not come undone.
He remains un-overwhelmable.
Dear Lord, gather us up into Your arms with all of our longings, fears, worries and burdens. We admit how futile it is for us to carry these things on our own. May we instead release them into your hands and walk with you by grace through faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.