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Several Many home assignments ago we did a slide show (yeah, it was real slides and not power point!) on carrying burdens.  In the Songhai language, there is more than one word for "carry".  To carry on your back, to carry on your head,to carry in your arms or by hand, and to carry on some form of transportation are all separate words.  Here in Niger we see things being carried in ways that leaves us pretty amazed at both the strength, the dexterity, and the ingenuity of the carriers.

Recently I've been reading through Isaiah and came across two different kinds of "carry" as well.  Now, I'm no Hebrew scholar so I can't tell you if two different words are actually used or not.  But certainly the two pictures Isaiah paints are different!

In the first picture, Isaiah pokes some fun at those who worship idols.  First off, they have to make their own idols and then they have to carry the idol around from place to place.  Not only do they make the idol, they also are burdened by it.  What they created to help them out is really no help to them at all.  Isaiah says in chapter 46, verses one and two, "their idols are borne by beasts of burden.  The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary.  They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity."

The idols are dependent on the people who created them.  Even though it exhausts them to carry them around, they keep doing it.  They carry them on their heads, on their backs, in their arms, on a cart.  The work of it is a drudgery.  They are weary and exhausted, but they can't put down their idol.  

Then Isaiah paints another picture of "carry".  In this picture, God is carrying us!  We are weary, exhausted, and feeling like we can't go on.  Isaiah says in verses three and four, "Listen to me..., you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  

In one picture, we created the idol, so then we have to carry it.  But in the other, the God of the universe created us and He carries us!

Earlier Isaiah had told us in chapter 40 verse 11, "He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."  

And in chapter 40 verses 28 to 31, Isaiah told us, "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

So, it's easy to think how cool this is that God carries me like a shepherd carries a lamb or gives me strength like an eagle.  But the part about carrying around my idols? How does that relate to me? I don't worship idols.  

But do I have other things I insist on carrying around with me?  My problems, for example.  Often they become big in my mind as if I'm creating some kind of monster I have to carry around with me.  Or maybe I create ideas I have that aren't the greatest ideas, but I don't want to give them up.  Sometimes maybe it is something I think we should or shouldn't do and John doesn't agree and I really want to insist on my own way, carrying around an opinion and making everybody miserable.

What do you think might be idols?  What things do you carry around because you created it and you want it and for no other reason?  Things you insist on keeping even though they exhaust you?

I'm so glad I don't have to carry those things around!  I can lay them down, give them up.  I can hold up my arms to the Lord and let Him carry me.  How much easier that is!

(The pictures in this blog are all from that original slide show we did back in the early 1990's!)


Beth said…
Loved this post, Nancy!
Katie Barker said…
I too enjoyed the post - and the pictures. Even from "back then" they are still really good pictures.

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