Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.”
We have twenty-four hours in a day, and hopefully, a third of those are spent in dreamland. It’s practically a full-time job to do the stuff of everyday life: going to the grocery store, doing your laundry, scrubbing the dishes for the thousandth time, and regularly getting in time on your workout mat—the list goes on. And on. Whatever you’re doing, I know one thing is for sure: It’s a lot. It seems “busy” is not something we do but someone we’ve become. And even though we aren’t Moses trying to lead millions of people through the wilderness, the timeless truth still stands: We’re not meant to carry the load of life alone.
Yes, even Moses hit a wall trying to help God’s people. Did God cancel Moses’s calling because his servant needed help? Of course not. Yet today we find shame instead of grace when we could use a hand. In this case, Moses didn’t carry a physical burden. He carried the emotional weight of others as he listened to them, prayed for them, and guided them to relate better to God and others. This was good work. But just because work is good doesn’t mean it’s good to do it alone. Perhaps like Moses, you’ve found that the schedules, deadlines, to-do lists, and appointments are wearing out your soul. Even life-giving work, the kind that helps others and honors God, is too much to do alone. Ever wake up after a full night’s sleep and still feel weary in your soul? We don’t often realize the pressure we’re under until we’re broken by it or buried under its weight.
We don’t even see Jesus doing work without help. Could he do it alone? Of course. He is the flesh and bone of God himself. Surely nothing is impossible for him. But he modeled a life that was not spent overwhelmed and buried under the demands of people. He regularly retreated from the crowds to be alone with his Father. He shouldered the weight of ministry with his disciples. Jesus knew how to pour out and fill up.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals or wanting to be productive. Balance needs to be part of our pursuits because it doesn’t feel good or please God when we struggle under the weight of a heavy to-do list. If we are worn-out from the moment we open our eyes until we climb back into bed, it’s not time to pick up the pace and push through. It’s time to realize strength is found not in our ability to get it all done but in letting go of the pressure to do it all. Of course, it’s not about neglecting responsibility. But the right response to a heavy load is not to lift it yourself. Just because you can’t get it all done, you’re not a failure. You’re human. God looks at us not only as his people but also as his flock. We’re sheep, and in the best way: “We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Guess what sheep don’t do? They don’t lift heavy things. They don’t carry burdens. They don’t really do a whole lot of anything except follow their shepherd around. The shepherd protects and guides, and those in his charge simply receive his care because that’s all they can really do.
The weight of burnout is heavy, but the burden of Jesus is light. Jethro tells Moses that once he releases the pressure to carry it all himself, his days will be easier, his load lighter, his steps directed by God, and his endurance greater. Even the people will have more peace. Don’t believe the lie that the strongest thing you can do is never let go. You know the weight of the world can’t be carried with two hands. Remember, our job isn’t primarily to carry but to follow. To follow Jesus. Rest is found not in reaching the finish line but in following the shepherd. May we come to Jesus and find that the heaviest thing we carry is the truth that sets us free.
The above excerpt is from the new devotional Milk and Honey by Cambria Joy. Cambria invites you to savor bite-sized portions of Scripture as you taste and see God’s goodness for yourself. Learn more or purchase your copy here.