By: Nan Hurd
When I was in Buenos Aires this Autumn I had the privilege to meet some people who work as cartinairos. These people walk around the city day and night pulling massive metal carts with heavy rubber wheels collecting cardboard and newspaper. Once they have collected a heaped cartload they take it to this place where they get paid by the weight of each material. For example, one hundred kilograms of cardboard will get them 20 pesos, which is 5 dollars. Do you know how light cardboard is? Because Argentina has no benefits, people are forced to work as cartinairos, work as prostitutes, beg, steal, look in the trash for food, or find another way they can think of to provide food for their families.
We met some of these people one night and the carts that they lug around are so heavy that my friend Dave couldn’t even budge it to pull it down. It sometimes takes one person to hang from the cart to keep it down while the other pulls. There are all sorts of things piled in there that they will hopefully be able to make a profit from. One man we met was digging food out of the rubbish for his 5 children.
That night as we were reflecting and praying about what we had seen, my friend Dave prayed that Jesus would take their burden. I thought that was an amazing image of burdens in my mind. I know they have spiritual burdens but I want to focus on the image of burden that they’ve given us. Physically they have a massive burden that we couldn’t even budge. They drag this burden around the whole city with them day and night. This burden gives them life. They have to lug it around or they’ll starve.
My mind went to the verse in Matthew: my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Think of it. An easy yoke and light burden. Think of the aching muscles, sore feet, crunching joints, pounding head, sweat and calluses. Think of the strain on their bodies day and night. Think of lugging this burden. Think of the pressure of the responsibility of providing for your family. Strangers yelling abuse. No money. Hunger. Your five kids. Rubbish bags. Rats. Weight. All by your self. You and this burden. That’s a heavy burden.
Now imagine Jesus. He unloads your cart. One item at a time. Envy. Lust. Bitterness. Self-harm. Unhealthy thoughts. Bad self-image. Lying. Pride. Religiousness. He tells you that these things aren’t good for you. They make life harder. You’ve become the slave and they’ve become the master. Let go. Embrace God’s ways. You suddenly feel light and free. Your burden is lifted. That’s the spiritual reality.
We have all these heavy burdens we keep piling into our carts like we’re shopping at the supermarket. Words said when you were a child. Disappointment. Un-met expectations. Rocky relationships. The load gets heavier and heavier. After a while the load starts to take a toll on you.
Jesus wants to release us from our loads. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. If we let him he will replace the heaviness that we can’t carry and we will be light. The problem is recognizing that you’re carrying unhealthy things (which we all are) and learning how to not go back to your old patterns.
Ask God what’s making your load heavier and then ask to see that burden the way He sees it. That will be the turning point. When we see the pain in His heart it suddenly becomes easier to want to change. Then share this with someone to help you stay accountable. God created us to live in community for a reason!
See more devotions from Nan and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.