"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2
It's not something any of us wake up each morning choosing to do, but sometimes Christ calls us to get involved in someone else's life. By involved, I mean walking into someone's life at a time when their burden is heavy, and they need an encouraging and helping hand.
My wife, Faith, followed God's lead and got involved in someone's life many years ago. Faith grew up in the small town of Harleyville, South Carolina. In her teen years, Faith went to work at the only clothing store in town, Priddy's Department Store. The store was owned by the mother of LaVonne Bell, a friend who would become a mentor to Faith.
LaVonne taught Faith the value of a strong work ethic as Faith experienced the retail world. LaVonne was the one who taught Faith how to shoot a free throw when she played high school basketball. Faith went on to teach other young ladies how to shoot free throws when she coached basketball herself in Middle and High School. LaVonne saw Faith's true beauty and encouraged her to enter the Miss Dorchester County pageant (which LaVonne led). I don't know how she missed winning the top prize, but Faith did win Miss Congeniality. Faith is still blessed with a stately beauty and teaches young people to walk tall and straight, lessons she learned from LaVonne. LaVonne loved all things Elvis, even having a designated Elvis room in her home. Faith didn't sing like Elvis, but she sang and played the guitar and LaVonne loved to hear Faith sing. LaVonne was a mentor and friend to Faith in so many ways, yet their friendship was sealed forever by a burdensome event.
LaVonne and Holcombe Bell were known by most everyone in Harleyville. They were blessed to have three children, also known and loved by the community. Yet, on a day unforeseen by anyone, tragedy struck. Young Bobbie Lorraine Bell died in a tragic drowning accident. It was a devastating loss. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a child can relate to the pain and heartache of such sorrow.
So many people avoid getting involved in someone's pain, because they don't know what to say. Not Faith. She too, didn't know what to say, but she showed up. She was there. She was present. She got involved in helping to carry someone's burden. It wasn't easy. There were a lot of tears. There were difficult days and times filled with despair, but LaVonne's faith in Jesus and her friendship with Faith strengthened as they walked this painful journey together. Lavonne often told others that Faith was there at her greatest point of need. Helping, encouraging, praying, singing, going on trips to the cemetery, and just offering love and support when it was needed most. As a mentor and friend and fellow sister-in-Christ, helping to carry the burden was the right thing to do, in fact, the Christ-like response. Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.
And so, today, Faith will honor the memory of her life-long friend and mentor by singing at the funeral of LaVonne Bell. Our family will miss visiting with LaVonne on summer trips to the beach and seeing her "Elvis" room. The Bell family hosted the Simpsons on many occasions at the annual Camp Meeting in St. George, S.C. That will be a treasured memory. Dorchester County, South Carolina will miss this rock of the community. But, one thing will not change. The law of Christ. When we carry each other's burdens we are fulfilling the law of Christ. LaVonne practiced that. In fact, her obituary partially reads:
"LaVonne was a lady who suffered several tragedies in her life that enabled her to have a special empathy for others who experienced the loss of a loved one. She was always quick to offer comfort and support. She was also a celebrator of life and relationships."
What is the law of Christ you may ask? The Bible nowhere specifically defines it, however most Bible teachers will say that it is found in Jesus' teaching on the greatest commandment found in Mark 12:28-31
“‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’”
The law of Christ, then, is to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even to the point of carrying each other's burdens. When we do get involved and actually help carry each other's burdens, a bond is formed that will carry beyond this life. A bond that unites us all under the banner of our burden lifting Savior. In fact, it will carry us into that day and place where there will be no more burdens, no more hurt, no more pain and no more death. For those in Christ, we will experience the reunion of friendships and family once again, but this time - all burdens will be removed.
So today, this very day, why not seek to live out the law of Christ? Love God and love others. Help carry the burden of someone else today. The strength of Christ will enable you and the love of Christ will sustain you as you get involved and simply help carry the burden.