“Oh, sure… give me that plate too… and the bowl… and the bread basket!”
We watched in amazement as the busboy kept stacking dishes higher and higher in his arms until he could just peer over the top. And then he asked us to stick one more saucer into the load. On his way back to the kitchen he staggered only once… when someone came through the swinging door and he had to step back. I held my breath as he disappeared into the back room, expecting any moment to hear a gigantic crash. But not a sound.
Everyone has experienced physical staggering. Perhaps it’s in the dark when we aren’t certain of where we’re going. Perhaps we are ill or have made a poor choice of food or beverage and we need to stagger to the bathroom. Sometimes just lack of sleep has made me unsteady on my feet.
I remember staggering a bit after a week’s cruise to Alaska and then readjusting to dry land. The next morning I was still dizzy and swaying on the piano bench at the church service.
Sometimes we stagger from an overwhelming blow, like a boxer who’s trying to stay on his feet. Or we stagger under tremendous weight. I’ve watched strong athletes who lift heavy barbells. They stagger a bit, and then hold steady for the judges.
Emotional blows can stagger us too… the blood leaves our head, we have to sit down, we feel like we’re going to throw up.
And just like the busboy loaded down with dishes, we can begin to stagger under the weight of work or stress or responsibility as one more thing is added to our load.
Some people view God as the employer who keeps adding to our earthly burdens. He’s up in heaven deciding just what to do next with His creation… us humans. “Let’s see what we can really load them down with now!”
But no. That’s not true. Instead He decided to lighten our burden. Remember Jesus accusing the religious leaders of the day of loading down the people with more and more laws until they staggered under the impossibility of keeping a clean slate?
There’s another definition of staggering that really fits our human condition perfectly: “To continue in existence or operation uncertainly or precariously.” My friend Terry Dittmer in his hymn “Brothers and Sisters in Christ” spoke of this when he wrote that we were “wandering aimlessly lost, unaware of the staggering cost.” We can truly be staggering through life, unaware of the overwhelming cost. Unaware that we are even lost.
The “staggering cost” Terry writes about is true to the core. There is an immense cost to our sin… death. But even more so is the aimless existence that so many experience. It’s an existence that I sometimes feel when I’m on overload or not sure just which way to go.
I often say to myself… “I can handle it just fine… Give me more!”… when in reality I’m missing out on a much better path… a better choice.
Oh, what peace I often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain I bear… when I forget that the sinless one, my Savior, staggered under the burden of the cross… staggered under the load of sin that I was responsible for adding to with my share… collapsed under the physical load… but then stood up to death and Satan for me.
And He stood strong for the judgment… so that I could be spared… and so I could live my life firmly in His strength… and with certainty that I had no more heavy loads to carry.