“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds,” says Regina Brett, author and inspirational speaker. Ah, sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Does this describe your summer so far? Hmmm, I wish. I’d love to tell you that I’ve spent my time lately lying in the grass counting stars and sitting on branches studying clouds. But instead, we’ve been busy moving this past month. While it’s so much fun to have a fresh start in a new home, I find that the packing and unpacking is always so much harder than we imagine it will be. Early in the process, I had these overambitious ideas that I would be able to do it all with ease. (I hear you laughing.) Well, I came to this idea because I used to have an organizing business years ago. Not only did I help people organize their closets, kitchens, and playrooms, I unpacked people who had moved into new homes. Even though it was exhausting work, the end result was always what drove me. No matter how many hours had been spent knee deep in dust and the chaotic piles of other people’s belongings, there was the moment when the client would walk in and see their now neat and pristine closet, clean and functional kitchen, or all of their boxes unpacked and possessions put away. This was the moment I lived for. Free from clutter and mess and the stress that comes with all of it, my clients could simply bask in the glory of beautiful organization. I loved doing that. Soooo, when it was now time for me to move myself and my stuff, I thought – Piece of cake! I’ve done this so many times before for others. This is no big deal, right? Wrong. Moving is hard. Period. Why? Because we just have so much stuff. And we move it with us from house to house. Why in the world do we carry so much with us?

While I was busy packing my office one afternoon, I came across an old picture of me around the age of eight. My heart leapt as precious memories flooded into my mind. Memories of my dad. There I am, perched in a green wheelbarrow wearing a grin of pure joy as my father holds the handles firmly behind me. That wheelbarrow may not look like much to you today, but to me, when I was a little girl, that wheelbarrow was a roller coaster. Why? Because my dad made it one.

When I was young, my father was this larger than life figure to me. Handsome, strong, smart, funny. I always felt like I had my very own version of Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, but mine wore a suit and tie. Dad was the champion of the Slip ‘n Slide in our back yard, orchestrated kick ball games, and threw all the kids in the swimming pool. He read to me at night from books like Charlotte’s Web and Nancy Drew and helped me with my history homework by actually acting out the scenes from WWII. He was present, engaged, and truly loved being a father. I was proud of him.

One of the most treasured memories of my dad has to do with a steep hill in our backyard and that big green wheelbarrow. Dad would put me in it at the top of our hill and run…not walk…but run, what seemed like 90 miles an hour down the hill. Twisting. Turning. Bouncing. And when we got to the bottom, he would spill us out gently onto the grass. No ride at Six Flags could compare to the incredible thrill. Neighborhood kids stopped by just to catch a ride with my dad. Looking back on it now as an adult and being afraid of heights and aware of all the dangers in the world, I am amazed that I let him do this. There were roots on that hill that could have tripped him, a steep drop to our right with the wall that he coasted by…but I didn’t care about that when I was eight. Dad was in control and I knew it and I felt safe. I trusted his protection, love and care for me. And as a result, I had the time of my life.

When was the last time you had the time of your life? Is this a concept too hard to imagine right now because of the tight grip you have over your circumstances? Are you too overwhelmed with worry, disappointment, uncertainty, or pain that you cannot even remember that kind of feeling? What if God desires something different for you…

I set the picture upright on my desk as I continued to pack and glanced at it throughout the day. And as I looked at that green wheelbarrow, I thought about the concept of it. It wasn’t just representative of security, love and freedom for me. But, what is it actually used for? Carrying things. Things too heavy to carry on our own. When we put heavy items in the wheelbarrow, we have leverage and better control over the load. It makes our job easier and feels like less of a burden. Is there anything weighing heavily on you right now that you wish you could place in that wheelbarrow? Could you be carrying around baggage that you don’t need? Are there stacks of boxes that you haven’t unpacked? Boxes filled with pain from your childhood, regrets from the past, unforgiveness, worries about the future, or sin? Are you aware that you have a Father who wants you to put all that baggage, all that burdens you, into His wheelbarrow and let Him carry it for you? Psalm 68:19 says,

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”

Your Heavenly Father wants to bear your burdens. He can heal the pain of your past. He can handle your present troubles and those concerns about the future. He will forgive those sins that you think are too horrible to mention. Because He wants you to be free and find joy and contentment in your everyday life, He desires that you go to Him with all that weighs you down. In this familiar and powerful verse, Jesus says,

“Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Are you craving this rest right now? God is waiting to make your load lighter. Your Savior is there to shoulder your burdens and forgive your sins, but you must come to Him. Too often we carry around all these burdens with us everywhere we go. We move them with us from house to house. They find their way into our relationships. We take them to work. We hold them in our hearts and minds which often affects our health and well-being. When all the while, our Savior urges us to come to Him. Why do we do this? What holds us back from going to God? Maybe it is because we don’t fully trust that He can handle it. Maybe we don’t realize just how much He loves us. Or maybe we don’t have faith strong enough to let go of it all. So our boxes stay full, the wheelbarrow remains empty and the weariness continues. This is not God’s plan for us! We can count on God. We can believe in His goodness and power. Our God is for us and He loves us. The Bible is where we can go for encouragement and proof of His unending love. Isaiah 46:4 promises,

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you…”

You ARE safe in the arms of God. But you must believe that you are. Trust is foundational in your relationship with your Heavenly Father. If my dad put me in that same wheelbarrow today, I would not have the same experience, would I? But why? I’d be afraid and calculating all that could go wrong. I would hold tight to the sides instead of raising my arms up. I’d attempt to control the speed and direction myself instead of letting him lead. In fact, there would be no joy in the experience. I would not feel the thrill on that ride today as I did when I was eight. Why? Because I would not have the same childlike faith. That unwavering trust. Doesn’t our Heavenly “Dad” deserve the same? How much could we be missing out on in our lives today because we don’t trust our Heavenly Father? What level of freedom and rest could we experience when we decide to unpack our boxes and let go of the fearful grasp we have on our circumstances? Whether it is our job concerns, worries about our children, or health problems – our God can handle it. If it is our deep insecurities, striving to measure up, or fear of the future – our God is in control. If it is unforgiveness toward those who have hurt us or shame for the mistakes we have made – our God is fully able to heal our hearts. His empty wheelbarrow is waiting patiently. Maybe it is time we let go, unpack it all and give it to the One who is ready to receive it. Even though our circumstances may not be what we desire today, we can trust that our future is in His hands. Our Heavenly Father’s love is bigger than anything that burdens us and He is trustworthy. We simply must make the choice in our hearts to believe in Him.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay Him?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

If I hadn’t trusted my dad, I would never have climbed into that wheelbarrow as a little girl. If we do not trust our Heavenly Father and believe that He is for us, we cannot experience the life that He intends for us. But what about the joy my father experienced with me that day? Yes, I had the time of my life, but didn’t he too? Seeing the excitement, the thrill, the fun I was experiencing – without a care in the world.  All because he was there for me. Like my father, God rejoices when we let go and trust Him. How do we make God feel when we choose Him? When we walk His path, let go and let Him – in that moment – He knows this means we have chosen to trust and find safety in His arms. He knows that we see Him as our Creator, Sustainer and the Blessed Controller of all things. And He knows that the end result of this confidence in Him will be our peace, joy and rest.

“The Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10.

So, dear reader, I challenge you to choose to unpack the boxes that you’ve carried with you for so long. One by one, take out the shame, regret, worry, disappointment, grief. Feel yourself becoming lighter as you hand over each burden to the One who loves you. His strong arms can easily hold the weight as you fill up the cart. Now climb into that wheelbarrow yourself. Don’t be afraid, because He’s got you! Because no matter how much you have placed on your Savior, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. There’s plenty of room for it all when you trust Him. And with your choice, a life of freedom and rest awaits. Now lift up your arms, beautiful child of God. Throw your head back, smile, and get ready for the ride. You never know… you just might have the time of your life.