Hello, My Name Is Burden

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Acts 3:4–5 (NIV)

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

CONSIDER THIS

“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

Previously at the gate called Beautiful, all the focus of history and eternity had zeroed in with a longing focus on this unfolding scene of Peter, John, and the beggar “lame from birth.” Though they were trying to get to the temple in time for the prayer meeting, their schedule seemed to evaporate. On this day after the day of Pentecost these friends of Jesus awakened to an awakening they had only assumed before this day. They had undoubtedly walked past this man many times before in their everyday lives. Something deep within them, the post-day-of-Pentecost Holy Spirit, began to urgently whisper, “Now!” and then to cry out, “No more!” and perhaps even, “Not today, Satan!” 

Every time in the past when I have come to Acts 3 I want to jump straight to the miracle. I want to celebrate the big win. Even more, I want to learn how to do that. This time has been different. I just can’t get past verse 4.

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”

Locked in the loving gaze of the risen and ascended Lord as seen on the faces and through the eyes of Peter and John, this beggar was no longer a beggar. He was a man, even better, a son of Abraham, a beloved son of Abba Father. He knew something to be true that day he never knew before. He was seen, regarded, dignified, and yes even loved. 

So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 

Do you know what it feels like to be a burden to other people? It feels good for a minute, when people come to your aid and help you in extraordinary ways. You feel seen, cared for, and even loved. But then the burden persists. It does not abate. It even gets worse. That’s when you stop looking at people who want to help and you just quietly glance down and receive the aid. That’s this moment we linger in today:

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”

You say thank you, and you mean it but in time you start to feel like a loser. You should have been better by now or out of the mess, but bankruptcy has a way of not letting go. It metastasizes into your very soul. You slowly slip into a place you never imagined being before—that of expecting people to help you. You are stuck in a moment you literally can’t get out of. You begin to quietly loathe yourself for becoming “that guy,” you never imagined becoming. You have slipped to the lower levels of the dignity of personhood. You have become a burden. The Spirit of God wants to interrupt this pattern and cycle. That’s why we linger in this moment today:

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”

Even the Bible rarely calls you by your name anymore. You are the “beggar lame from birth” or the “widow before an unjust judge” or the “man born blind” or the one left for dead on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem or the “man by the pool thrity-eight years at Siloam,” or the prostitute washing Jesus feet with her tears. That kind of existence has a way of stealing your name over time. Your name has become Burden. Have you ever noticed how beggars don’t wear name-tags or write their name on their signs asking for help. Every now and then we hear about “Bartimaeus” but even he gets tagged with the first name of “Blind.” 

Every now and again, we find ourselves involved in one of these situations and it becomes more than we bargained for. It’s too hard. The burden is too heavy. Our friends will assure us we have done enough; to let someone else help. What is needed in these situations—which are everywhere—is not more charity, not more government welfare programs, not a better food bank, not even more money. What is needed is love; divine love moving through human beings; not “help you out” love but “help you up” love and “hold you up” love and “heal you up” love. It is not practical. It is as costly as the cross. (It’s interesting how we will never forget the name of the man who carried the cross of Jesus. Those names become immortal.)

Most people are not in poverty because they don’t have money or because they don’t know how to budget. They are poor because they lack access and belonging to a redemptive community. We don’t need heroes. We don’t even need philanthropy. We need a community of saints, of holy ones, who have banded together into the church Jesus is building, who know the names of every beggar within a square mile or ten; who don’t prop them up every day by the Beautiful Gate, but help them through it to the other side. 

Every time in the past when I have come to Acts 3 I want to jump straight to the miracle. I want to celebrate the big win. Even more, I want to learn how to do that. This time, I have just wanted to linger outside, slow down to the pace of the step of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is taking us beyond the sensational transaction and into the sacred transcendence. 

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”

I wish we could go back to that day he was born lame. What did they name him? 

Still day one. 

THE PRAYER

God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. I want to know his name. I want to know their names. Would you unburden me of the need to solve other peoples burdens and instead, would you lead me deep into their lives. Would you train me in the divine love of Jesus, which would shred my thin charity. Make names matter to me. They seem to matter to you. Praying in the name above all names today, Jesus, amen. 

THE QUESTION

How does today’s text and reflection hit you? Does it make you feel guilt? shame? If so, it’s hitting you wrong. Pray to feel longing and hope and power and possibility and all of that glowing with the shekinah of Jesus’ love. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. J D, you asked, “ How does today’s Daily Text and reflection hit me? Honestly, the first reaction to the list of folks who’s circumstances made them a burden on society all seemed to have one thing in common. The “beggar”, the “prostitute “, the “blind man”, the “ robbery victim “, and the “man born lame” were all emptied of their pride. The lesson here for me was that before we can receive God’s mercy and blessings, we must be emptied of our human pride and self sufficiency. This begs another question: Would any of these folks been open to seek God’s mercy and blessings if they had not found themselves in such a situation? Just wondering.

  2. One thing I can speculate on is that my name once was “Burden.” Like me, after my encounter with the living Christ, the blind man got a new name after encountering the Spirit of Christ through Peter and John: Miracle, Redeemed, New, Whole, Disciple…? How often did he profess and confess his awakening moment with Jesus? I’d say until his body exhaled its last breath.
    I pray we will do the same in our new name.
    Amen

  3. If you want people to give you their attention, you must look at them and be open to connect with them heart-to-heart, otherwise any interaction you have with them is mere formality. Compassionate caring is costly.

    If a church will surrender continual and complete control to the living Jesus and actively train their members to do the same, Spirit-led ekklesia will gloriously appear!

  4. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Rev2:17

    I don’t think we need the persons name to remember them. We remember them for their encounter with Christ.

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