Tonight was her Christmas party – an elegant ballroom party, it was a dream come true. The last two months at this job made her feel like her past was finally behind her. The dress and shoes she had borrowed fit her perfectly. However, as she slipped on her tattered winter coat, feelings of sadness and shame came over her.
Upon arriving at the party, she noticed a coat check. What would they think when they saw her dirty coat? She turned away and rolled her coat over her arm. Inside out, no one would see the stains from her past life. The coat told the story of many wild nights partying and waking up in drug houses and hotel rooms that were rented by the hour. Past memories followed her to the food table.
Walking around the room, she carried the coat and balanced her plate of delicious looking hors d’oeuvres. Every few minutes she would try to shift her coat to the other arm without spilling her food. It was a burden to carry her coat but it was nothing compared to the burden she carried in her heart. The mistakes of her past were so heavy but she just couldn’t let them go.
The guy from accounting was on his way over to her and she had nowhere to run and hide. He was probably going to ask her to church again. Like any church would want her, she thought. Besides, he was an accountant and he would have a heyday tallying up all her mistakes. He reached out and said, “Let me check that coat for you, it looks like a burden.”
As he took the coat from her, he noticed the stains. Here comes judgment, she thought. But instead he looked at her with the most amazing kindness and said, “This coat looks like it has known its share of heartache. It reminds me of my life before Christ. I dragged my shame around with me wherever I went. It kept me from enjoying life. One day I found myself wanting to end it all, but something pulled at my heart. Before I realized what I was doing, I walked into a church. I guess I wanted to see if God was real. I opened a Bible and I will never forget what I read. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ It was at that moment I realized I could leave my burdens with Christ. Finally, I had found rest and peace.”
There was no judgment in his eyes. Instead, there was a joy that seemed so different from anything she had ever seen. He walked away with her coat and she stood there for a moment thinking about how good it felt to no longer be carrying it. With tear-filled eyes, she wondered if there was any truth in what he said. Could she find rest and peace too? Right there, in the middle the party, she said, “God, if you are real, can you give me rest? I am tired and I hurt so badly carrying all my mistakes. I want to live my life differently. Can you take my burdens and give me rest?” In that moment, she found peace that she had never felt before.
Today Christ wants to give you rest. If you are carrying burdens that are weighing you down, Christ is waiting to take them from you. He wants you to check your burdens at the cross and enjoy a life free of shame. You simply need to ask Him. He is not concerned about how you word it – it doesn’t have to be fancy. He is looking at your heart. You can hand Him whatever it is you are carrying around with you and He will take it no matter how ugly it may be.
I recently talked with a man who had just given his life to Christ and in our conversation I told him, “Whatever you gave to Christ, you have been forgiven for all of it. Do not go back and pick it up. It was checked at the cross and it no longer belongs to you.” The same is true for you when you check your burdens at the cross. They are no longer your burdens to carry. Please don’t wait another minute. A simple prayer is all it takes.
Originally posted at Living Better 50 magazine