As I was sitting on the warm sunny beach in Ixtapa, Mexico celebrating 35 years of marriage to my amazing wife, Bonnie, we were hearing the news of a snowstorm hitting Michigan. We heard it was the third worst snowstorm in history! I received a few pictures from my daughter, Ashley, via text message, so I sent her a few beach scenes to encourage her. It is very difficult to relate to something happening so drastically different then your own experience. You can talk about it and kind of relate, but your senses don’t really connect. Similar to this is when we watch the news and hear about all the things happening in the world. When we hear of terrorism, it can shock us and move us, but once we change the channel or go to the next news event, we form a new connection and the other story becomes a distant thought.
To really connect to someone else’s experience, we need to make a concerted effort to do so. As Christians, the Holy Spirit makes this possible because He is the means by which God can speak to us. The Spirit can communicate God’s thoughts to us and also communicate God’s burden to us. The Bible teaches about the burden of the word of the Lord. When the prophets carried the word, they also had to be willing to carry the burden. This burden represented a willingness to share in the feelings God had for something or someone.
As Christians, it is important to know that God wants to share His burden for the world with us. When the world sees that we are as burdened by their pain as God is, they will certainly be more responsive to what God wants to communicate to them. It is also through this burden that we can properly relate to other Christians and connect ourselves to them, carrying their burden with the help of God. This burden will also be the motivator to cause us to be Christ to our world.
Going Beyond a “Wish List” Prayer Life
God has been sharing His burden with me for His persecuted church throughout the world. A short time ago, I watched a news report about two Japanese men beheaded by ISIL in which one of the men recently converted to Christianity and was there to help secure the release of the other prisoner. The next day, I heard the story about a pastor in Nigeria whose whole goal in life was to help others; Islamic terrorists also killed him.
As Christians in America, it is easy for us to give God our “wish list” in prayer and be totally disconnected with the rest of the world. Can we still have “wish list” prayer? I believe we can seek God for anything, but if we would allow God to share His burden with us, I am sure it would help us become more directed in our prayer time. I know I want to share the burden of those persecuted in my prayers before I start on my own “wish list” prayers! Someone recently asked me how people in the word of faith movement could get so off base in their prosperity doctrine. The answer is simple: prosperity is biblical and should be expected when following God’s principles, but if we don’t allow for the Holy Spirit’s direction, we can get off track on any biblical truth. When we have the Holy Spirit to share the “spirit” of our pursuit, it will correct us from being self-seeking to being God-centered.
In John 6:63, Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life” and that is what’s required for us to walk in the fullness of His intent—balance through the spirit. Will you join me in being a life-seeker and take a moment to get off your “wish list” and onto His burdens? It’s time for us to align ourselves with the Kingdom message so we can refrain from self-centered living alone!