The Older We Get the Bigger Our Burdens
Census at Bethlehem by Pieter Bruegel
What we see here is only one small part of the entire painting. Pieter Bruegel's works are always so busy and full of activity that it's easy to miss much of it.
We see the sun setting on Bethlehem which Pieter has painted as a Belgium town where he is from. And because this section of the painting has been singled out we can actually see what is going on with the people. In the foreground we can make out nine adults. Three of them on the right are bowed down with huge burdens on their backs. They stoop under their loads.
To the left of the tree dividing this section of the painting are two men pulling and pushing an even bigger load. To the right of them is a woman also bowed down carrying a big burden on her arm. The other four adults just walk along.
In contrast, we see four children on the right side of the tree and a fifth in the distance who seem to be at play. It looks like the canal or river has frozen over and they are skating and sliding and having fun.
Pieter has caught quite a true picture of life. The older we get the bigger our burdens. The bigger our burdens the more we stoop beneath them. We lose the fun and spontaneity of childhood until the best we get is watching children play in the distance.
But this is not how God meant for man to live! We were all meant to walk in partnership with God, doing only the good works that God prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). If life gets burdensome Jesus invites us to come to Him to find rest for our souls. He tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. That's because when we are yoked with Jesus, He carries the hard part leaving us free to be like the kids.
Not only are we meant to be free like the kids but Jesus tells us that unless we become as children we will never enter the Kingdom of God! Those are sobering words and we object because we have a job to do and a family to feed and care for. We have the daily pressures of life itself. So how can we be like children?
Children are humble and therefore still learning. They are dependent on their parents and trust that they will feed and clothe them and put a roof over their heads. Are you and I still learning? Are we dependent on our Heavenly Father for all that we need? Do we trust that he'll provide it? If not, we do not have the attitude that God requires to be one of his children.