The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.
The Lord heard the cry of his people enslaved in Egypt and made way for them to be free and on their way to the promise land. The Exodus was a pivotal moment for the people of Israel. Thereafter, the very understanding of who God was and who the people were called to be would be shaped by the experience. Yet, it was far from a smooth or straight path into the promise land. The people of God wandered the wilderness for many weary years. At one point the idolatry and rebellion of the people resulted in fire coming down from Heaven and burning up the edges of the camp. Moses prays and the fire goes out.
With the fire out, ‘the rabble’ begins to complain about the menu. They are tired of the manna bread that falls from Heaven that feeds them in the desolate Wilderness. They pine for the food back in Egypt which was free (they fail to mention that they were oppressed slaves who were fed to keep them toiling at their labor)!
Moses has had enough and not only wants to quit, he asks God why it has fallen to him to suffer at the hands of the people he is leading. I bet most coaches, teachers, leaders, parents, and the like, have had moments like the one Moses has in Numbers 11. We may not have told God we would prefer to die than to keep answering the call, but many have known moments of frustration, doubt, or even despair.
God doesn’t remove the task from Moses. God doesn’t tell Moses that he is exaggerating. God doesn’t tell Moses to work harder, be smarter, or figure it out. God sends help and tells Moses to share the load.
Whatever we are facing, whatever our calling, whatever the road has in store for us, we can hold on to hope, even if it all is just as hard as we think it is. The assignment you face today, or this decade, may be even harder than you think. The people you live with, work among, and try to love may be incredibly difficult to share life with. You can even tell God (or complain, in fact) that you are frustrated and confused. Be ready though for God to pour more of himself into your life - to draw others into the work or just the worry to help you carry it. Sometimes we are carrying things God never intended us to hold and freedom comes from laying them down. But sometimes the burden we carry is the call of God, so the solution is not to quit but to share the burden. Building connections to Christ, community, and compassion is not easy or light work, so we know we must rely on that which only God can supply. God sends help in the Holy Spirit and distributes the burden throughout the body. We have lay leaders (non-clergy and not staff) who have been raised up by our community to share the load and to continue the journey. Around Pentecost, we will consecrate the folks in worship for this calling, but please receive the attached list of Church leaders as an invitation to connect if you have questions, concerns, or ideas on how to multiply blessings and share burdens.