SERIES 2: The Sin Also Known As
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” ~ Psalm 38:4
It’s called sin, but you have known it in your experience as The Burden. It crushes its victims under the weight of guilt. It overwhelms them with the sheer weight of its load. It is too heavy to carry with you upward toward God and too heavy to put down without God’s help. In this way, sin is not like other burdens, the ones you can pick up and put down at will. It latches onto the backs of its victims at the moment of conception, then grafts itself into the structure of their being so that sin is a core part of who they are and who they think and feel themselves to be. You get so accustomed to its presence on the shoulders and back of your soul that you often do not notice that it is there, nor do you think about how swift your journey and how sweet your flight toward God would be if you were not weighed down by the heaviness of it.
But from time to time, you see it, you feel it, you sense it. This usually happens when it’s too late to do anything about it. It is a familiar scenario: first you lose sight of whose you are, reducing your place in God’s world to the roles you play in society or the fantasies you create for yourself to escape those roles; then you lose sight of who you are, reducing your identity to whatever your emotional state tells you you are, whether bored, angry, bitter, confused, ugly, sexy, broke, fat, skinny, old, unattractive, unwanted, invisible, insignificant, or inconsequential; then you lose sight of why you are, reducing your purpose to the act of mindlessly going through the motions of work, family, social life, and religion; then you lose sight of where you are, reducing your story to a meaningless cycle of activities unconnected to the grand story and adventure you are actually in.
Now once you no longer see or feel the adventure of the story you are in, you are primed for the counterfeit, subtle at first, but steadily increasing in its allure and its promise of thrilling adventure. This is the moment of temptation, where your desensitization to the adventure God has placed you in heightens your sensitivity to false adventures. You no longer see the path home; all you see are the rabbit trails with plants of many colors. You pick one trail, whichever one looks likely to restore your sense of excitement, whether it is a lie, or a betrayal, or a theft, or a sex-capade, or a retaliation, or a conflict, or a gossip. You take the false road, picking up trinkets along the way and storing them in what you’ve told yourself is a regular sack on your back. It feels good and satisfying to be here, more so because you know you shouldn’t be here, so you feel powerful, in control. But by the time you have enough sense to actually want to stop your wandering, you realize the awful truth: you have a heavy burden on your back and it is heavier than ever because of the recent compromises you have added to it. It suddenly dawns on you that what felt like the adventure of independence a moment ago is really the prison of isolation. And the journey back looks impossible and long.
Your sin is a burden you can’t put down and a burden you can’t take with you. Your options are not many, and putting it down on your own or taking it with you on the journey toward God are not among them. You can either keep the burden and remain grounded to a halt in the middle of this jungle filled with wolves on the prowl for stranded pilgrims, or you can cry for help. There is mercy only for those overwhelmed by the burden of their sin and the heaviness of their guilt. That mercy is available because God has availed himself to come find us as we are where we are, and has offered himself as a substitute to carry the burden in our place. The question is: are you yet overwhelmed by the burden of your sin to cry for help under its crushing weight? Are you prepared for the pain of separation you may feel at the moment God severs the burden from you as a surgeon severs a tumor? Are you ready for the new ways of walking you will need to learn as one whose burden is removed?