Do you remember the day when you first believed the gospel?
Can you recall when your mind understood what Jesus did, and your heart latched onto him in loving faith?
These first moments of nascent life in Christ are so precious to ponder. They refresh us with the intimate and infinitely valuable truth that God loves us. He has intervened to remedy our gravest problem and remove our greatest burden. Those first words of “I believe in Christ” and “forgive me” and “thank you, Lord Jesus” echo in our ears. We exult in our saving God!
I was reflecting on this myself today as I read through the 81st Psalm. Asaph reminds God’s people of his dramatic and decisive intervention in their lives, rescuing them from their bondage in Egypt. Vividly, he writes the words of God,
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.” (Ps. 81:6)
Looking back to their times of bondage was a healthy discipline for the covenant community. It did them spiritual good to contemplate the weight of the burden on one’s shoulder and the calloused hands from carrying the basket. The Lord uses precise language to remind them of their past bondage. He does this to refresh them with the truth of their redemption, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10). This would then result in covenant loyalty and joy in God.
Like the rest of the Old Testament events, we can observe clear anticipation of the person and work of Christ. It was Jesus who came to rescue sinners like you and me, wrecked by the curse and languishing in sin’s bondage. Amid our hard-labor, he set us free. The Lord Jesus came to those who were weary and heavy laden, and he gave rest (Matt. 11:28). It was Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for those in the shackles of sin (Mark 10:45). And then, in time, the Holy Spirit was powerfully dispatched to open our eyes to see Christ the Lord. Through the Word proclaimed, we beheld Christ as just the Savior we need. He is not only able but willing to save us! The Holy Spirit applied the redemption that Jesus accomplished for us. God made us alive in him (Eph. 2:4–7).
It’s healthy for our souls to turn over our hands and feel the old callouses from sin. We remember the fruitless labor.
It’s healthy for us to consider the scars we bear from that merciless taskmaster. We remember his harshness.
It’s beneficial for us to consider again the heavy load our shoulders bore. We remember the pain we caused and felt ourselves.
It’s also beneficial to consider our new allegiance to Christ.
Labor in his administration is not fruitless, it’s fruitful.
He is not a harsh taskmaster, he’s a good shepherd.
He does not crush the weary, he supports and strengthens us.
Christian brothers and sisters, it is good to recount the story of your conversion. It is God’s story of triumph in your life. Each detail drips with an unstoppable love. He relieves our shoulders of the burdens; he frees our hands from the basket. So, open wide your mouth, and let God fill it with the abundance of his goodness.