A few months ago, my bride and I were back in Ohio to escort our granddaughter back to her home. She had just spent about six weeks with us in Florida, and it was time to return her to her parents.
We dutifully dropped her off, then drove north in the state and settled for a few days in Holmes County, the heart of Amish country in the state.
One of the beautiful aspects of traveling to Amish country this time of year is that normally you will find lots of activity in those communities among the people who live there. We have, in the past, spent at least one weekend there a year and usually at just about this time of the year.
In addition to seeing large groups of Amish farmers out in their fields harvesting crops, occasionally you will see them all on one farm raising a barn.
A barn raising, also historically called a raising bee, is a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by other members. Barn raising was particularly common in 18th- and 19th-century rural North America.
A barn was a necessary structure for any farmer, for storage of grains and hay and tobacco, and for keeping one’s animals. Yet a barn was also a large and costly structure, the assembly of which required more labor than a typical family could provide.
Barn raising addressed the need by enlisting members of the community, unpaid, to assist in the building of their neighbors’ barns. Because each member was entitled to recruit others for help, the favor would eventually return to each participant.
The interesting part of such an event is that practically within one day’s time, an entire barn could be raised and ready for use the very next day! It is amazing what one can accomplish if others are willing to collaborate and mutually bear the burden of each other.
That same concept is also present in home renovation. I am no home renovation expert, but I am a keen observer of such things. If you watch many of the home renovation programs – it does not matter which one – sooner rather than later you will encounter a decision which the homeowners must make. That decision is to determine what to do with a “load-bearing wall” that they wish to remove from the home.
The current trend in having an “open concept” room in which there are no walls separating the living and eating and playing areas of the house. And such a concept requires the removal of one or more walls, some of which may be “load-bearing”.
Depending upon the height and length of the wall being removed there must be a long and strong beam across the room which will indeed hold up the structure above the wall being removed and will allow that room to then have that “open concept”.
That beam, when properly grounded on either end, will take the burden, the load, which the wall had been taking prior to its removal.
In either of these examples, there is a principle. Not only do “many hands make light work”, but also “a burden divided is lighter to bear”.
In Galatians 6:2, that principle is given even greater emphasis, for there we are told to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
You and I are called to be collaborators (“co-laborers”) with each other, considering others and their needs as essential to “fulfilling the law of Christ”. That fulfills the essential principle of becoming like Christ, setting our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
One of my fundamental principles in life is seen in this: “THE ESSENCE OF CHRIST-LIKENESS IS OTHERS-CENTERED LIVING.” This does not mean that we do not take care of ourselves, but it does mean that we pitch in when we know others have needs, especially needs which we can fill – and, quite frankly, that applies to almost any need.
But there is another even greater application for this principle as well. The loads we are called to bear, the collaborations to which we are called to participate, are all met by one simple challenge: Place your load on the ultimate Load-Bearer!
We read in 1 Peter 5:6-7 these challenges: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
Our natural sense of pride seems to point us toward an independent spirit, one which says, “I can do it myself!”, but ultimately we need God’s help to survive even one more day. God wants nothing more than for you and me to submit our proud spirits to Him and allow Him to do His work within us and through us.
He will bear our burdens if we only allow him to do so!
So the next time you are renovating your home, or raising your barn, or dealing with coronavirus or politics or finances or family relationships or whatever burden you are carrying, instead of proudly carrying that burden all by yourself, “cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you”!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.