Laying down your burdens requires a powerful act of determination and a kind of spiritual surgery that only the Holy Spirit can perform.
We see this illustrated in the book of Nehemiah. At the time, the Israelites had faithfully and diligently rebuilt Jerusalem's gates. But once the gates were back in place, the people completely overlooked the Sabbath observance. Every week, long lines of laden-down animals passed through Jerusalem's gates, going to and from the city market bearing merchandise.
Nehemiah was angered when he saw all this activity on the Sabbath (see Nehemiah 13:15). He warned the people to lay down all their burdens and honor God's Sabbath, but when they would not listen, he stepped up the level of his appeal: "Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?" (verse 17). He was saying, "I chided them, preached to them, warned them. But nothing worked."
Finally, Nehemiah had had enough so he took drastic action: "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day" (verse 19).
Nehemiah put sentries at the gates. But even then the burden-bearing people would not be deterred. They camped out all night long, carrying their burdens around as they waited for the gates to open (see verse 20).
Beloved, your burdens will always be camping outside your mind, waiting for an opportunity to jump right back in. You may lay them down at night, but in the morning, there they'll be, the same old worries and concerns waiting for you to pick them back up.
So, what did Nehemiah do to stop all the burden-carrying? He said, "Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? If ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath" (verse 21).
When Nehemiah came to end of his endurance, he threatened force. And, beloved, that is just what we are to do to keep all burdens outside the gates of our minds. Like Nehemiah, we are to cry out from our soul, "This isn't God's way! I live in the day of Sabbath rest yet my soul is anything but at rest. All my cares and worries come and go as they please. I must take dominion over these burdens, at any cost!"
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon