While helping her young violin students choose their music to play at the nursing home over the Christmas holiday, my daughter was dismayed to hear one small boy declare, “I won’t play any religious stuff. I’m not religious.”
Standing in the local elementary school’s doorway, my daughter waits to meet him every Thursday. Besides carrying his little violin case, he hoists a rather large backpack into place and resembles an old stooped man, carrying a load much to large for his little frame. He is not alone. Most of the children streaming out of the school look much the same, all having loads of books and papers bundled on to their backs, with only a few having smiling parents to meet them and relieve them of their burdens.
A few months ago, in helping him with his homework, my daughter paged through the science book that contributed to her little student’s hefty load and what she found there burdened her adult heart so much it still aches. Not only does this boy think there is no God, everything he was learning at school told him he must be his own god and save the world. The human race was to blame for the supposed state of our environment and the responsibility to fix it was heaped upon his little shoulders. There was no joy found in the pages, celebrating the fact that God’s creation is beautiful and we can be thankful He is in control; only heaps of gloom and loads of fear filled the book.
A Christmas without Christ. A world without God. A child with no one to carry his burdens.
The little violinist may grow accustomed to the weight of his burdens as they gradually grow heavier with each passing year here on planet earth, but one day, they may crush him under a load of inestimable weight. It is then he may look up to see a strong, compassionate God who has been there all the time, waiting to shoulder his load– a Heavenly Father who wants a relationship not a religion.
“Let my soul roll itself on Him, and adventure there all its weight. He bears greater matters, upholding the frame of heaven and earth, and is not troubled or burdened with it.” (Robert Leighton)
Smiling to herself, my daughter played “In the Bleak Midwinter” for the little “Not Religious Boy”. He liked the sad sound of the song, choosing it for his solo piece to play at Christmas time for the residents. Having no idea of the lyrics himself, the boy cheered the hearts and lightened the load of many a weary traveler in more ways than one, for these are the poetic words sung to the beautiful old music:
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him… give my heart.