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On the Side - February 2018

Rate of Perceived Exertion

by Sharon Kay Chatwell
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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” (NASB).

Sounds good, doesn’t it? I mean, right now, how heavy are your burdens? As wives of doctors, often we carry a bit more than our fair share of any load. By default, we usually end up taking care of most of the stuff at home, including chores, children, pets, loved ones, you name it.

In addition, if something goes wrong, whether relationally or physically, with any of these other responsibilities, we often have to sort things out pretty much by ourselves. This is usually because our doctor hubbies are off doing something else, like “saving lives” or “stamping out disease.”

So, in a world where our husbands are often away doing other things (which in fact are very difficult and time-consuming, as well as worthwhile) how do we cope with all the problems we encounter? To whom can we turn with our burdens?

The answer, as always, is Jesus.

I joined a gym recently. (Some of you who know me will find that amusing.) Actually, I joined a pool that happens to have a gym around it. It has to do with my knees, and getting older, and something about putting off knee replacements for a few more years. It is a gym for folks 55+ in age. I am one of the youngsters.

While I’ve been in this pool, walking back and forth (exercising my knees and other things) I have noticed a sign on the wall that says, “Rating of Perceived Exertion.” It assigns numbers to varying amounts of perceived exertion, ranging from 1 – None to 10 – Maximum. On the sign, 2 is Very Light, 3 is Light, 5 is Moderate, 8.5 is Heavy and 9.5 is Extremely Heavy. You get the idea.

One day, while I was there exercising, I was very sad. As I walked back and forth, I was praying about a situation that had arisen in my extended family. One of our loved ones had made some disastrous life choices and was now paying for them with some pretty serious consequences. To make matters worse, there was nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) that I could do about it.

I felt terrible.  I was so upset and frustrated that it felt as if I was carrying a very heavy burden. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to feel better. Suddenly there was that sign again, asking me to rate my perceived exertion. “It’s a 9 today, Lord,” I prayed, “or maybe a 9.5. I just feel so sad. Could you help me? Please?”

It was then that Jesus’ words from Matthew 11 came ringing through my head, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Could I do that? Could I just give Jesus this burden? Would that work? Well, it should work. I knew that. “Jesus,” I prayed, “I am worried about this. It is a heavy burden for me and I cannot carry it. Let me push it over on to you and let you carry it. I need you to be responsible for it and to shoulder this load. I just can’t.”

As I continued to walk back and forth, I noticed that I gradually I began to feel better. “God can handle this,” I heard myself saying. And later, after I began to relax and feel less stressed, I almost rejoiced, saying with a new sense of hope, “Perhaps my loved one will even be better off after this.”

None of the facts had changed, but I realized my heavy burden had been lifted. Everything was just as it had been, but now Jesus, the Son of God Himself, was carrying the load. All the responsibility, all the heaviness, seemed to melt away. As I walked back and forth across the pool, I now felt my Perceived Exertion as a 3 or maybe even a 2 (Very Light) instead of a 9.5.

Hudson Taylor, the 19th century missionary to China, told how he had to allow Jesus to carry all of the burdens of his ministry. He described how he had to “push them over” on to Jesus’ shoulders, and how Jesus was faithful to carry them all.

Our job as Christians isn’t to carry all of the burdens around us. Our job is to be faithful and to bring the burdens we face to Jesus and allow Him to carry the impossibly heavy loads for us. As we do, our rate of Perceived Exertion, and actually the exertion itself, will grow less and less.

After all, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Sharon is a doctor’s wife and grandma, living “the good life” in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska. She is committed to passing along little tidbits of insight, as she gains them herself, and hopes that, somehow, they will help you and others. She invites you to come visit her at the gym anytime! Bring your grandma-type swimsuit!

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