By Brenda Black
Zeus, the head honcho in Greek mythology, punished a Titan named Atlas by forcing him to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. When Hercules sought the help of the encumbered Atlas to fetch the apples of the Hesperides, Atlas agreed on one condition: that Hercules assume his heavy burden while Atlas runs the dangerous errand. When Atlas returns, he tells Hercules that he is tired of holding the hulking globe and believes he'll remain unfettered while Hercules assumes his duty. Hercules quickly tricks the gullible Atlas and shifts the weight back upon his bruised and aching back. Once again, Atlas got the shaft, or in this case the axis, and all the weight of the world back on his shoulders.
Greek mythology is not eternally trustworthy. It's laden with worldly ideas that cloud God-Truth. Most certainly, we will discover one day when we meet Jesus face to face, that characters imagined by men are not present, nor do they hold any power in a place being prepared for God's chosen and beloved. It is not a simple-minded strong man who is holding this world in orbit. It is the Almighty One.
The stories, though contrived, prove beneficial at times if for no other reason than to convict or bring to mind scriptural principles. In fact, Atlas, just taught me something pretty significant. I cannot carry the world on my shoulders without a break. I can't expect someone to remove my burdens if I don't ask. And if I don't learn the lesson the first time, I'm doomed to repeat the same mistakes that put me under the poundage in the first place.
I may have discovered these analogies in the fantastical tale of Atlas, but the teaching of Christ makes it perfectly clear that we are not called to bear any burden alone.
“'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'” (Matthew 11:29-30)
Rest assured that the Lord is not saying life is a cake walk. In reality, life is rough and we better have a helmet – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit! Jesus is waiting and willing to be our armor. He's also willing to get dirtied by our burdens, strap on the yoke and pull right along side us. In His cheering words above, the Lord does not give us a way out, He offers a way through the heaviness and He extends His helping hand to bear the greater burden in our behalf.
Sometimes the burden is temptation. God's yoke is resistance. The heaviness may be sorrow. God's yoke is peace and hope while we put one foot in front of the other day after day until we step a little lighter. The millstones we hang around our necks come in all shapes and sizes. But God crawls in under the onus load and whispers, “Let me carry this one with you.”
A team of oxen multiply their efforts exponentially. The load becomes lighter, the end of the row nearer. The power of Christ in every circumstance brings Herculean strength and Atlas stamina when we let Him in and accept His help. We were never meant to go it alone or take on the weight of the world. If that notion is Greek to you, then remember this: We were created and called to be cheered and carried by the real High King.
Jesus is no myth. He's everything we need.