Burdens are Lifted at Calvary

Days are filled with sorrow and care,
Hearts are lonely and drear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary,
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Cast your care on Jesus today,
Leave your worry and fear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Troubled soul, the Saviour can see,
Ev’ry heartache and tear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near.

This particular hymn was written by John Moore.  He wrote both the lyrics and the music for it.  Although the message of this song is a simple message, it has probably become his best known hymn.  Here’s the story behind this particular song in Mr. Moore’s own words:

I wrote “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary” after a most interesting experience. The company secretary of a large shipping firm telephoned the Seaman’s Chapel and requested that I visit a young merchant seaman, who was lying critically ill in a Glasgow Hospital. After getting permission from the nursing sister, I went in to visit the young sailor. I found him glad to have a visitor and eager to hear what I had to say. I talked about general things for a few moments and the put my hand in my case for a tract, not knowing which one I would pull out. It happened to be a tract based on “Pilgrim’s Progress,” with a color reproduction of “Pilgrim” coming to the cross with a great burden on his back. I showed the young seaman this picture and told him the story in brief, adding that Pilgrim’s experience had been my experience too. The more I told him, the more anxious he became. I explained that, when I came to the cross of Christ, my burdens rolled away, and my sense of sin and guilt before God was removed. By this time, the tears were running down his cheeks, and he nodded his head when I asked him, “Do you feel this burden on your heart today?” We prayed together, and never shall I forget the smile of peace and assurance that lit up his face as he said that his burden was lifted! Later that night, sitting by the fireside with paper and pen, I could not get the thought out of my mind–his burden is lifted! I started writing, and the words flowed on to the paper.  The tune was written at the same sitting, but never for a moment did I imagine that this little hymn would become a favorite throughout the world. Since that time, I hear people from all over the world who are being blessed and saved, through the singing of this hymn”.

You know what I love about this story.  Here’s a man who was asked to simply visit a wounded seaman in the hospital.  Mr. Moore visited him and shared the story of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and then shared his personal testimony.  He didn’t have to quote large passages of Scripture.  He didn’t have to have a Ph.D. in Theology to share the good news of the Gospel.  He simply shared his testimony.  The Lord showed up, this young man accepted Christ, and his sin burden was lifted at that very moment.  What a great story of God using a willing vessel to change the eternal destiny of a sick seaman!!

Couple of comments on the lyrics:
*  “Leave your worry and fear” – I like the thought of leaving worry and fear.  I have a mental picture of worry and fear as large suitcases we used to carry every end of school term from boarding school at Choma Secondary – going home (kwa Siachitema ku katundulu).  They are full.  They are heavy.  They are burdensome.  But they are also powerless if I leave them where they are.  I don’t have to drag them around everywhere I go.  I don’t have to carry them up a flight of stairs, or carry them on my back.  I can lay these huge burdens at Jesus’ feet.  I can cast this “baggage” upon Him and know that He will take care of them because He cares for me.
“The Savior can see every heartache and tear” – I like the fact that the Lord sees our problems – every heartache and every tear.  During difficult times, we may feel like David felt in Psalm 6.  David was physically ill.  David was struggling.  He prayed an honest prayer and for seven verses he shared his pain.  But in verse 8 and 9, you can hear the faith rise up in David as he confidently proclaimed what he knew the Lord would do, and you can almost feel the burden being lifted from him:

“O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.”

Have you ever helped someone move from one house to another?  In my globetrotting as I work in different parts of the African continent in my circular job, I can’t tell you how many times we have had to move with my family.  There are two big challenges with moving.  Packing the small stuff into boxes so that they are manageable, and moving the heavy stuff.  If there was a sofa, large dresser, refrigerator, or other large item that had to be moved, we not only needed a big truck, we needed help doing the “heavy lifting.”

For many of us, we not only have burdens, but many of us have “heavy” burdens.  May be it is a broken relationship, and the other brethren do not seem to care. They evoke all their known doctrines and scriptures upon you. Maybe it is a personal sickness or a loved one with serious health problems.  Maybe it is a financial problem we don’t see a way out of.  Maybe you have a “strained” relationship with a family member where the damage seems irreparable.  Maybe it is an unsaved loved one you are burdened for.  Or maybe it is the loss of a loved one and the burden of grief remains heavy.  This song not only reminded me that my sin burden was lifted at Calvary, but this song reminded me that Jesus can do the “heavy lifting” of my other burdens as well, and He can lift those burdens that I may be trying to carry myself.  He has commanded us to cast our cares upon Him.  Not because somehow our problems will “magicaly” disappear.  But because He takes the burden and the worry and the care of those problems, and He carries them for us.

I pray today that you will let Jesus do the “heavy lifting” for you.  He carried mine. It was heavy for years. I pray that you will let Him take your heavy burdens.  That you will heed His words found in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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