In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invited, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
In January of this year, I decided to take myself in hand and lose some weight. I'd been ignoring the slow gain for years, trying unsuccessfully to lose it on my own -- usually by unhealthy fasting.
So I was feeling rather "heavy laden" at 40 pounds overweight.
First I asked my physician for weight-loss meds. He refused, instead "prescribing" three months of Weight Watchers.
I reluctantly joined incognito, and wonder of wonders, I lost every pound in seven months on their program.
Today, lifting a 44-pound bag of dogfood reminds me of theextra weight I carried 24/7 for more than 10 years. How light I feel by comparison!
But let me emphasize, I could not do it on my own. I had to admit I needed help, put my ego aside and go get it.
In Hebrews 12:1-3, Paul encourages the Christians to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." He says we do that by keeping our eyes on Jesus, remembering the endurance He exhibited for our sakes.
Extra fat burdens our bodies. However, there are many kinds of extra weights we carry that burden our minds, wills and emotions -- our souls.
These weights include addictions of all types, debt, loss of loved ones, jobs and homes, bad relationships, bad attitudes (anger, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, envy, selfishness, etc.), depression and anxiety, to name a few.
Just as I had to lay down my ego and accept help to lose weight, we usually don't make much progress on our own in overcoming any of these weights. We need outside help.
First, we need God's help, and He promises to give it. If we ask, help will be given. If we seek an answer, we will find it. If we knock on the door, it will open for us. (Matt. 7:7).
So if you are struggling with one of these weights, the first place to start is by sincerely asking God's help. He will point you in the right direction. (Just as He had my doctor send me to WW.)
It may be a struggle to walk through the door of your first AA or WW meeting -- or to make that first appointment with a pastor, therapist, debt counselor, lawyer or physician. But the end result is you regaining control of your own life.
(Remember, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.) This journey begins when we face the truth and admit we need help, and allow this truth to begin to "set us free" (John 8:32).
The next step involves getting into the needed program and following it -- their way instead of our way. Remember, our way isn't working so well, right? Once success is achieved, we remain vigilant to follow through with all steps necessary to maintain the victory.
An amazing thing happens when you regain control of your life in one area -- you feel empowered to regain control in another area, then another and another. When you are able to dump more of the weights that have disabled your life, you do feel lighter physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Joy returns. Energy returns. Strength returns. Vitality returns.
Jesus reminds us in John 10:10 that this is how life is supposed to be. The weights we continue to carry around with us are stealing much from us, destroying our happiness, even killing us. He promised us abundant lives!
Can we agree to take a step this coming week to lay down some of those weights that are disabling us, and accept the abundant life Jesus offers?
Begin by accepting Him into your life and see if many things don't immediately begin to change for the better. Then seek and find the help you need to begin to take back control of your life.
The Rev. Anne Barber, is pastor of My Father's House, 7215 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, visit www.myfathershouseinc.com.