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Light Fail

We’re doing some sprucing up around the Ryder home. The dining room has gotten a much-needed face-lift. Paint has gone on the walls in a couple other rooms. An old buffet has been painted and upgraded. There’s new tile in the entryway, and several light fixtures are being replaced.

I really enjoy working on home improvement projects. I spent a summer in college painting. We had a ‘fixer-upper’ home where I got a lot of practice learning skills by necessity. I love diving into a project, discovering how it’s done, and that sense of accomplishment when the task is completed. From then on I can look at that project and know, “I did that.”

In our kitchen, we have always had a large, fluorescent light over the island. It’s large, with a thick, heavy, wooden frame, encasing several fluorescent tube lights. It was very modern and awesome…in 1995. So it had to go.

Rebecca and I found a light online that we liked and it had been sitting in its box in the kitchen for several days until one evening I decided that it was time. After dinner we began to disassemble the large island light, taking it apart piece by piece. The majority of the fixture was actually a beefy frame made of solid oak, approximately 3 feet by 2 feet. It was anchored into the ceiling with several large screws, so, with the help of my cordless drill, I began taking those screws out. Rebecca was there to lend a hand, so as I removed screw after screw, I handed them to her.

As I prepared to take out the last two screws, Rebecca stepped up to help hold the fixture. She was on one side, I was on the other. I took out one, most of the way, then the other…but the frame was still semi-attached to the ceiling. It was loose at one end but not at the other. It was a little heavy, but with both of us there, it was manageable. I began to wiggle it a bit to get it to let loose.

It did.

Before I knew it, the full weight of the oak frame fell on my neck, and it jolted both of us. Standing precariously on stepladders, leaning over the kitchen island, we were in awkward positions. When the frame gave way, we quickly realized that we didn’t have hold of it as solidly as we thought. Before I knew it, I was going down fast. My step-stool went one way, I went the other, and I landed on the floor between the island and the stove with that beautiful 90s light framing my head!

It’s still a blur when I think about it. I was bruised and scraped up, and still have scar that looks like it’s going to stick around the rest of my life. But neither of us had serious injuries. After a brief chuckle, Rebecca slowly helped me up and we began picking up the pieces. I’m happy to report that, after some electrical work and ceiling patching, there is a new light in our kitchen that looks and functions beautifully. But the process was a bit clunky.

As I think about that experience, I’m reminded of Galatians 6:2 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Sometimes we think we can handle what life throws our way. It appears manageable, and besides, everyone has a load to carry. We think, “I can do this.” Like with me and that light, we figure that we have experience and we wouldn’t want to bother anyone else with our issues. Too often, it’s about that time that we end up in a pile, under a weight that was too heavy to carry, trying to pick up the pieces.

God has set up the Church to love and care for each other. We all have burdens and stresses, loads to carry, and no matter how big or small, we are meant to carry them together. Many accidents and broken pieces could be avoided if we follow the instruction in Galatians 6:2.

So that’s a message for us to, first of all, be humble enough to ask for help, allowing those around us to partner with us in shouldering the load. Secondly, that’s an admonition for us to be willing to step in and help out those in need, “bearing each other’s burdens.”

That could mean doing practical things to meet people’s needs by serving them or giving to them. It could mean encouraging them. It might simply mean walking with someone through difficult times, letting them know that we care. It should always involve lifting them up in prayer.

How are you going to bear someone’s burdens today? It’s yet another way to love people to life!

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