Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Tree Up Ahead

by Sarah Van Diest

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Up ahead there is a tree. The path goes right up to it. It’s the only tree for miles. Its limbs reach far and its shade is deep. I hope we’ve made it there. We’ve walked so far and for so long. I wish to be there so we can take off our heavy packs and lean them up against its trunk; so we can rest and eat our lunches. Maybe close our eyes a little while.

I hope we are there, because if we aren’t then we still have miles to travel, we still have battles to fight and cold, dark nights to endure. If we aren’t there just yet, I hope we get there soon. We can leave everything under its shade and go freely, lightly on our path, hearts full and eyes forward. I hope we are there now. Do you see it? Please tell me you see the big tree. I am ready to lay my burden down.

Maybe after we rest and as we go on our path we should switch bags. I will carry yours and you carry mine. There seems to be something better about that idea. I don’t mind carrying your burden, my friend. In some ways I think it fits me better anyway. In some ways I own your burden. Yes. I will carry your burden and you carry mine. If you would, please.

This way may not be the norm when it comes to carrying one another’s burdens; usually we talk about them as we unpack them; we try to figure out what it all is and means; where it came from and why it’s in our packs. No, this one is silent, but the sound of our burdens’ weightiness pushes through the air and begs the ears to bend low and listen. Hear its whisper and heed its beckoning cry. Kneel on the soft earth and bow down. Slide the pack off my back and I will slide yours off as well. We will carry each other’s from this point on. This quiet transaction is a sacred act of friendship and devotion. How odd love looks in this light, with packs and trails, and silent exchanges, but it is a beautiful oddness.

My heart is already lighter as I stand up and take the first steps. Your pack is much lighter than mine and much easier for me to bear. And by the smile on your face, it is the same for you. That is good for my soul to see. Your smile brings me life.

It’s not that I don’t still carry some of my own, my pockets are full, but the bulk of it has been lifted from my shoulders. It’s as though I’ve grown up a little on this trail. I see my responsibility as it relates to others. It’s not just about me taking care of me and my issues, it’s about living in such a way as to honor others, in this case, to honor you. And God has provided me with energy and strength to do that in the love I have for you, dear friend. When it was just me, lugging my heavy load around by myself, my drive to do so waned, but because this is for you and for your good, I am eager to follow through. Love does that, you know?

That doesn’t mean I won’t stumble and drop your pack from time to time. I may. It happens when I forget why I’m carrying it for you and start thinking only of myself. It happens when I decide I want to fulfill my desires and forget my commitments. Those are heavy days. But there is rest to be had in the shade tree of the Lord and He will renew my strength when I seek Him. He will renew yours, too.

I don’t know how long we will be carrying each other’s burdens, but I’m happy to do it as long as you need. It fits me well. I don’t know if you know this, but you gave me a gift when you handed me your pack. Your trust in me, even though I won’t be perfect at this, is the gift you’ve given. And oh, my. It is a wonderful gift.
Sometimes we wait too long to carry one another’s burdens. We see our friends and loved ones struggle, but we are afraid to come along side and quietly slip their packs off. It’s not that we can’t talk about those burdens, sometimes talking and sharing is the rest which takes place under the tree, and the burden may even disappear after that time together, but so often it is a look we see on our friend’s face that tells us their burden is so very heavy. We don’t need to wait for them to ask us for help.

Since carrying one another’s burdens is fulfilling the law of Christ, and the law of Christ is that we love as He loved, it is something we do as the law of Christ works its way through us. It is not another rule or behavior we must adopt, or another task to add to our checklist for being a good Christian, it is the outworking of the Spirit in us. And there is life here. As I picture you taking your pack off your back and I see relief fill your face, I am energized. That’s the way God wired us. (Here’s an article that talks about that: )

Don’t forget the blessing of letting someone else carry your burden. If it is a blessing for you to carry theirs, then it will be for them to carry yours, too.

I think I see that tree just up ahead.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble. Proverbs 17:17.

Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both and editor and an agent. 

Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.


  1. A beautiful, well written post. I cried when I read, " I’m happy to do it as long as you need. It fits me well. I don’t know if you know this, but you gave me a gift when you handed me your pack. Your trust in me, " May each of us have a person in our life that we can say this who can say it to us. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you, Cherrilynn. Tears are a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing your response with me. This journey is not easy, but we are not alone.
      Blessings to you and to all who walk with you,

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Carole.

  3. What a lovely thought. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer.
      I am happy to have shared it with you.