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Immerse: Poets - Week 1

At the end of Return of the King, the third movie in The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee says that famous line, “I can’t carry it for you, but I CAN carry you!” It’s one of my favorite moments in cinema, because that ten-second clip embodies a huge part of living out the gospel: bearing one another’s burdens. Frodo has carried this enormous responsibility of destroying the wicked Ring of Power, and he’s at his end. Sam has been with Frodo, travelled with him, fought with him, saw his worst moments, and been betrayed by him; but still without fail, he continued to stand by Frodo’s side. What an example of loyalty to one another!
This week’s Immerse reading is not about bearing one another’s burdens. However, much of the fruit of this week’s reading has had me thinking about this lately – how David bore the responsibility of being the next king over Israel, and how he endured years of pursuit by Saul, who was so jealous he wanted to take David’s life for being appointed by God to become the next king. How instead of accepting what God had ordained for David, Saul chose to become a burden for David and ultimately hinder a smooth transition of leadership for Israel. And how many of the psalms I’ve read this week come from a place of despair on David’s part to petition God to deliver him from his enemies, one of which was a fellow follower of God.
Often, our motivations or our own selfish desires negatively affect another’s walk with the Lord. Much of this week’s reading will contrast good and evil, righteousness with wickedness, and reveal some of those character traits which betray the true nature of a person’s motives and actions. It will be important for us as a church to distinguish where we fall and evaluate what our own motives are. Here’s the thing: I think it’s more than obvious Saul could not have cared less about David’s well-being, or ultimately the direction God had for Israel. His motivations were all about keeping his butt on Israel’s throne, and far from what God desired for His people. But they were both on the same team! To tell you the truth, I often wonder how much I am contributing to, helping, or hindering the plans God has for this church and this community in 32207. Am I interfering with someone else’s walk with the Lord by my words and my actions, or my behavior towards them; or am I being an encouragement to them and a light for the Gospel in the middle of whatever circumstance they find themselves?
I’ve considered lately the words of David concerning some attributes of God: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10).
Are we bearing the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we hindering or helping? Are we encouraging or discouraging? Are we diminishing each other, putting each other down, lacking grace, mercy, or forgiveness with one another? Instead of submitting to comparison, jealousy, impatience, anger, or envy toward one another, you and I could change someone’s life today simply by behaving like God: See someone’s trouble, consider their grief, and act; whether by prayer, by helping, or by being a listening ear. Listen to their story. Consider what they might be praying for, what they might be hoping for in the Lord, what they might be grieving for. Support them as they seek the Lord and as they endeavor on their own faith journey, and show them the power of God through your actions, your words, and the way you forgive. We all have burdens; we all need refuge and strength from God. We all have weaknesses, we all need forgiveness from God. We can’t carry it all on our own, but sometimes the best we can do is to let someone else carry us until we have the strength to keep pressing on. Sam didn’t tell Frodo he could have done it better, he didn’t blame him for not making it to the end, he didn’t even get angry at Frodo when Frodo was lashing out at him in his very worst moments. He didn’t make himself a burden; he simply came alongside, picked Frodo up, and helped him finish the race. He became a person Frodo could trust to help him. We ought to do the same for one another. Don’t be another’s burden. Bear another’s burden instead. Then you’ll see the fruits of goodness and mercy right before your eyes.