Little Red Wagon

Little Red Wagon

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT)

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

 

When the older three children were very small, I purchased a two-seater red wagon. Having outgrown a stroller, but in desperate need for control. I could load all three inside with all their paraphernalia and head out for the day. Each seat flipped up to reveal little compartments to hold snacks, jackets, or whatever else the little army may need. To some it seemed like overkill when a stroller would fold up neatly but when you have three children under the age of four a mom develops survival skills or the little crumb snatchers take over. Seriously…

The not-so-little-red-wagon was the go-to until the little people sprouted legs and could no longer ride together without creating a scene. It seemed as they grew bigger adaptation became more necessary. When a fourth little one came along even the car needed an upgrade to haul more stuff so we became the proud owners of a minivan which evolved into a Suburban at some point – the ultimate grocery getter. As the older children have become adults and moved on with just two left at home, I miss those chaotic times so much. In close examination, I find that there were a lot of times I carried a lot more with me than I needed including a long list of responsibilities and expectations of myself as a parent that made me think of the massive wagon I hauled the kids around in. I wanted to be the perfect parent. I wanted the world to think that I had it all together just like everyone else. But I didn’t. The perfect picture would melt away leaving a struggling single mother with three small children in the midst of broken dreams.

People live compartmentalized lives. The need for control puts an image in our head that if somehow organizing our burdens, problems and challenges it will allow us to carry the load. This is not the Lord’s plan but a purely human endeavor. Rather than relinquishing our struggles, we hold tightly to them. Everyone has a place they haul these burdens it is called the human heart. Our own little red wagon built in our body that keeps the pain, pressure and purpose of our life well-contained until it is broken. Some have small chambers like the tiny metal wagons that are child-sized but then others have one like I did with all-terrain wheels made of heavy duty plastic with lots of storage. We cry out to the Lord for relief. Something has to give before I fall apart. He says, “Come to me.” How will your heart respond?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I will be the first to admit I am a control freak. The need to keep my life in order so that I am not overcome. I budget everything in life just to make sure there are no surprises. But guess what? That didn’t work so well when our son got sick. I didn’t expect our child would ever develop a life-threatening illness. For the week after prior to treatment, I tried to make this fit in our “normal” life. It didn’t. How could I care for him AND work full-time to maintain a paycheck? I couldn’t. How could I make a tight budget cover expensive cancer treatment? It wouldn’t. How could I be with my girls and two hours away with their brother? It was impossible. Welcome to the emptying of my little red wagon and the contents of my life. Why is it when we can’t that we finally come? Why must we become completely broken and undone to accept the Lord’s Invitation to march boldly to His Throne for the mercy and grace we need to live life? It was the moment I could do nothing that I found faith and trust for the One who could do everything.

The invitation still stands today that Jesus made so long ago. Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden that I give you is light. Come to me…it is the beginning of our gentle unfolding at the Hand of God. We all come to Jesus weary of life or why make the effort? We wouldn’t come to the Savior if we didn’t see a need to be saved. We wouldn’t ask Him to be Lord if human control was working out that well. We come to Him in our need but to have the change we require means that we must release control and decompartmentalize our life at the Cross. We must be undone. To come to Jesus and leave the same way is a waste of time. Yet we do it all the time praying for release but keeping a firm grip on the door to our heart keeping it shut not to reveal its secrets. No one has it all together they just have well-managed hearts with perfectly built compartments holding the cares and responsibilities of life. But then it happens, a peek at true freedom so we begin to cry out to God until finally it happens. We are pressed to change and the door pops open and our life (warts and all along with every skeleton) comes falling out. How could this happen? Did you not ask for relief? Did you not call out for help? The Lord cannot help those who insist on helping themselves.

Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?  I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 

It is when the greatest storms of life hit that our true identity is revealed. I thought I had it all together. I thought I was serving the Lord. I thought He was in control of my life. When the storm hit, my heart was broken into a million and one pieces. I discovered in that moment that my need for control had kept close reins on my faith and hope was only what I allowed it to be. Nothing too big as to not overwhelm the Lord or was it to not overwhelm me? I had not surrendered my whole life to God just the parts that were comfortable and controlled. Now I couldn’t breathe, move or think. My life was utterly turned upside down. Nothing would ever be normal again. When the storm came, my house was shaken to its core and foundation. Thank God there was some faith there to build upon or surely we would have gone under.

We call Him Lord, Lord but do not do what He says. This is not about religiously serving the Lord to the letter of the Law but answering His Ongoing Invitation to come. Come to me. He keeps calling stop doing everything and let Me do it. Stop trying to make yourself righteous your way and let Me do it. Stop cramming compromise where My Promises belong. Stop settling for second when I want to make You first. Humility allows us to come to Christ and receive every blessing that God the Father has predestined for our life. But it is a total surrender of self to the Lord in every facet of our life.

When Jesus called to the fishermen busy on the job, He said, “Come to me.” (Matthew 4:18-20) What made them drop their nets and follow Him? There is a natural draw to Christ that is undeniable. It would only be discovered later that the Messiah did not come as they expected nor did things turn out as they thought they would. We must come to Him as a child. (Matthew 19:14-15) How hard is this in a world that heaps on responsibility and pressure that is overwhelming? My children don’t worry about paying the bills, keeping the lights on, filling the fridge or getting where they need to go. They just come to us and are confident that we will take care of them. There biggest concerns are do we have Wi-Fi, cell service and what am I going to where to school tomorrow. Their needs are met. We will it take for us to come to Jesus like a child. Human inability is usually the only way. To have all that Christ offers requires giving up our hold on life and handing our life over to Him. But like the guy who had a bunch of stuff, it may be the deal breaker for most people who are fine doing everything the Word of God says but need to maintain control of their stuff be it possessions or responsibilities. (Matthew 19:20-22)

Luke 10:39-42 (NLT)

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

God doesn’t need workers. He desires worshippers. The Lord is not asking you to do everything the Word of God implies but rather seek Him first and all these things will be added to you. The Holy Spirit will produce the Spiritual Fruit that is needed to harvest many souls. We need Jesus. Total dependency on Who He is and What He has planned for our life. We put the cart before the horse too many times and try to do the work of God in our own strength. It is impossible. I struggle with my Martha-complex on a daily basis. I want to get the job done and forget there are days that I am not supposed to be the strongest, hardest and fastest but flexible to vacate the kitchen and it at his feet. I get caught up in my goals and aspirations even the good ones and God ones forgetting that it is the Lord who works out these things in my life not me. I cannot be the only one who struggles to keep control? But in this relationship with Jesus Christ, it begins at His Feet taking in all that He has for us first to do what He has called us to do. We can do nothing apart from Christ now no matter how hard we try. If we do try, we will be overcome with the burdens of life rather than walking in the freedom of total abandon and dependency on the Lord.

Luke 12:16-21 (NLT)

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

We must have a rich relationship with God to be successful in life. True success in life is not what we have or how we use it but when we surrender all that we are and have to Jesus Christ. Just knowing Jesus causes blessing to rise up in our life, it is easy to assume responsibility for what God is doing simply because we make better choices when attempting to follow Christ. We must never mistake these good things for things we do or produce but remember where it all comes from and where it will one day remain. Nothing of this earth makes it into Eternity but our soul. The Lord wants to nourish and enrich our soul each day with His Word, His Spirit and His Presence but sometimes we get too busy assuming responsibility for His Blessings that we miss it. Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Him will not hunger or thirst again. Whoever believes will be satisfied in life. (John 6:35-36) Trouble is once we get our life in order and back under control – we wave the Lord off and go back to doing it ourselves all over again. Why are we burdened? Why are we weary? Why are we so heavy laden? Because we have assumed responsibility for our life once again. Jesus says, “Come to me.” He promises to give us rest. We do not come. If we do, we take our little red wagon in but rather than dumping it – we haul it all right back out with us again.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

The good news is God doesn’t have to break us to remake us. The bad news is that most of us will not willingly accept the new life that He has given and release of all burdens until we cannot make it another step. Human nature is that we must reach the end of ourselves to accept all that He promises. I am guilty of having to exhaust all MY effort before accepting His Help. I am desperately trying to come boldly to His Throne each day and dump every worry, care and burden. When I am successful, I have found an uncompromised and incomparable freedom that is greater than words can ever explain. But on those days when my heart is full and on the verge of breaking, I have learned to answer His Invitation to come. It took a long time to stop hauling around my little red wagon full of hurts, cares, burdens, worries and fears to acknowledge that His Power works best in my weakness and that His Grace is sufficient for me.

Why am I still so surprised when the Lord does what He promised? Why does it still take my breath away when He speaks directly to my heart? Why am I not more confident in God’s Care for me? Why can’t I accept that though I am unworthy He still loves me the most? My favorite part of this verse is the first part where it says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses.” Jesus knows. He understands. He knows why you don’t trust anyone. He knows why you have dependency issues. Yet still day after day He whispers to our heart, “Come and talk with me.” How will your heart respond? He will not take anything from you that you are not willing to give. But once you see how sweet and tender His Love can be and experience His Affection, Kindness and Goodness – you will begin to empty your heart before Him each day knowing that He truly cares for you!

Matthew 6:28-33 (NLT)

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

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