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10 Jun 2014

We all have a load limit

Picture this cartoon in a magazine: Approaching a small bridge plainly marked, “Load Limit—Eight tonnes,” is a truck, also marked on its side, “Eight tonnes”. When the eight-tonne truck is in the middle of the bridge with the eight-tonne limit, a bluebird lands on the top beam. 

At that point the bridge gives way and crashes with the truck into the river below, to the obvious surprise of the bluebird.

The bridge was built as indicated for eight-tonnes and the truck weighed exactly that. The bridge could have held up under its load limit, but not under eight-tonnes and one bluebird. The bluebird was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. 

Of course, this story is wonderfully ridiculous. Most bridges could stand up under their load limit and several thousand bluebirds extra. But, to be sure, all bridges have a breaking point somewhere—that point at which the bluebird would be just too much. 

We all have bluebirds in our lives. We are all burdened by the facts in our lives, which load us to the point of “load limit”. We let little things get the best of us, little bluebirds of nothingness, tiny bluebirds of no importance, but just the thing to bring us down.

Every person has a limit and we would do well to watch for the warning signs of one bluebird too many. There is always a load limit.

At times, the church can be guilty of loading people with burdens, which are beyond a person’s load limit. Sometimes I ask myself, what is it about religious systems that arise as windows of the divine, in order to bring freedom and release to people, that they at times quickly turn into agencies of exclusion and injustice? 

“Surely we cannot pray together, because we don’t see eye-to-eye on some finer theological point,” says one Christian to another. And as we go about our religious gate-keeping, we load bluebird after bluebird on people. 

When Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt.11:28), he invited all people to live in his freedom. He invited all people to go past the religious gate-keepers and reach out to those who do not qualify according to human-made criteria and who groan under life’s burdens and worries. 

Jesus came for all people, but especially for those whom others think would have no place in the circle of God’s people. He invites us to take on ourselves his way of liberating life, rather than our way of demanding life. He invites us simply to come to him with our soul’s exhaustion and, in his presence, find our rest.

Pastor Ian

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