commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers
the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.”(1John 5:3-4).
Last night when I tried to write this reflection I could not get past the
notion that loving other people, the main commandment discussed in 1 John,
certainly did seem burdensome. I was a bit too busy being resentful
about the lack of help I was getting around that house to feel like loving
those in front of me. To love at that point did seem burdensome.
This morning when my alarm went off at 5:30 and I struggled to get myself
out of bed and to the gym I understood the passage in a new light.
To get myself out of bed when it is cold and still dark out seems very burdensome.
However, once I’m at the gym, being there and exercising is not burdensome.
And I rarely regret making that choice (while I do at times regret making
the opposite choice and staying in bed). As I thought about it, I realized
how I experienced this same dynamic often with loving others. The thought
of taking the extra time or submitting myself to do something loving often
seems burdensome as I think of other things I would rather do. However,
when I do make the time to visit the elderly neighbor or give my husband
extra time and respect, doing those things usually ends up not being burdensome
after all. Like the trip to the gym, I rarely regret choosing the loving
act and frequently regret choosing the opposite. When I have faith
in the wisdom of God’s command to love, I can experience victory.
Can we pray for faith that brings such victory that we bring glad tidings
to the poor and proclaim victory to captives? Can we trust that doing
what we may be called to do to make this year one “acceptable to the Lord”
will bring more than burdensome toil? The Psalm reminds me of the challenge
that our pastor put to my husband and I. She told us before the election
that we needed to sincerely pray for the President (and not just that he
would have a nice retirement in January). In the heat of the election
season this seemed like a burdensome task to me. I am ashamed to admit
how hard it was at first to really do it. However, once I got past
my initial reluctance and pride, it was not burdensome. This Psalm
does offer a useful prayer to pray for all of our political leaders this
year. If we cannot honestly say that they are freeing people from extortion
and violence, we can pray that that will soon be true.
May we experience the sweetness of God’s commandments this year and have faith to conquer the world.