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Est. 1996
 

 

Garment Exchange
By Shannon Parish

Gaze upon an imaginary person or perhaps not so imaginary, holding in their arms a glorious robe of praise.  Their heart is pure and joyous before the Lord, filled with compassion and love for God's Kingdom, His creation, and His children.  This faithful saint is making the journey to the Holy of Holies.  This is the love of their life, to bow before the King of Heaven and worship Him without reservation.  How the heart of this saint soars as each step is taken.  Lightly, almost as if in dance each foot touches the earth in rhythm to the song that is bursting forth in his heart.

 A stranger steps out from the shadows and weeping bitterly stops the saint and bears his heart of pain.  Over his back lie a rotting, moth eaten cloth, and the burden of it almost breaking his weary back.  Our faithful saint removes the fraying cloth and lightens the load of this stranger, giving him hope in return.  God is pleased.

 Further on down the road a dear friend runs to catch up with our traveling saint and joins with him, side by side.  Conversation passes between the two as the friend complains about his lot in life and the garment he is wearing.  The saint's smile begins to fade and his steps slow down.  Stopping in the road our saint gives his friend his full attention.  After all, they are covenant brothers and this friend needs his help.  The cloth that had come from the previous stranger begins to itch as the fleas it contains begin to roam through the saints clothing and hair nearly driving him mad with frustration as he takes on the burden of his friend.

 The friend waves goodbye and trots off the path.  The saint takes another step, stumbles and falls and catches himself with the palms of his hands.  Looking down he notices that the garment his friend was wearing is heavier than he had expected.  His heart weary, he reasons out in his mind that at least his friend's load is lighter.

 Shifting his load, the saint carries on.  His goal of reaching the Holy of Holies feels further away than he had originally thought.  A loud distraction takes his eyes off the road and he witnesses the conflict of a couple of neighbors, screaming and flailing fists at one another.  Pausing in his journey, the saint crosses the road and comes to the neighbor's fence.  "Excuse me," he calls out, "Can I be of assistance?"  The man yells back to him all that is wrong with his wife, as his wife throws a wet, heavy blanket at the saint shouting at him to mind his own business.  Helplessly the saint trudges on, taking note that not only is he carrying the strangers diseased cloth, and his friends garment, but the wet, filthy blanket the woman threw, the weight of which is causing him to stumble. 

 Moaning, the saint presses on, his burdens getting heavier by the mile, his destiny appearing farther and farther away.  The song in his heart has long faded the notes but a distant memory.  Tears begin to trickle down his face as the fleas from the stranger's cloth make their way into the folds of cloth over his bosom.  Scratching the area over his heart anger rises from within that he had not noticed before.  "This is a lousy lot" he fumes.

 "Here I am on my way to worship God and trying to bring some cheer along the way to the people I meet and look at me!  He calls me to love them and to care for them, but these clothes that are handed to me are diseased and rotten, and I feel like I'm going to break under the load!"  He glares at the unforgiving sky as another gust of wind kicks up some dust, stinging his eyes and wrapping yet another rag blown in from who knows where around his neck and shoulders.

 His steps, having gotten slower with the added weight of each rotting piece of cloth, are now dragging, accenting the bow of his burden laden back.  Despair now clouds his mind as he tries desperately to remember why he was on the path he was on, and why.  Didn't God care?  Hadn't he shown care and concern over his brothers and sister?  Why then was he feeling faint and ever so weary?  The glorious robe he had been carrying had become such a burden that he was tempted to throw it down, yet something stayed his hand.

 A gentle breeze tosses his hair and brushes a sweet fragrance across his cheeks, replacing the bitter winds, which had become his companion.  "Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...  The words weave their way through his clouded mind.  "But I have taken these burdens to carry for YOUR glory God!  Bitterly he points out his faithfulness and the sacrifice he has made for God.

 Again..."Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...lift up your voice to God!"

 "Put on the garment of praise?"  Bravely the saint stands and unfolding the glorious garment he has been carrying, he tosses it in the air trying in vain to duck under its folds.  Reaching an arm in back of himself, he wrestles with the golden fabric in an attempt to pull it over his shoulders.  But alas, the rotten, smelly rags he is carrying has made standing upright impossible, let alone dressing in a garment so light and exacting.

 "Put on the garment of praise FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS...  An urging to let loose of the burdens he carrying presses in on his soul.  "But I've been faithful!" he cries.  "These burdens do not belong to you, Child" The voice is clear and firm.

 Suddenly his heart is pricked and understanding comes to him.  His error was in thinking that he and he alone could carry those burdens away.  His was a sin of pride.  Intending only good, he had forgotten the most vital part of worship that he could extend.  That was the total trust in the Creator of the Universe, and a knowing that HE and HE ALONE was able to carry burdens. 

 To lift the burden of another was a good and righteous thing, but to keep that burden was disobedience.  He had forgotten to cast those cares on the Lord. In his eagerness to please, he had made the gravest of sins.  He had sacrificed that which had not been asked and had not obeyed what had been asked of him.  "Oh Lord God!" he cried out.  "Forgive me for not trusting you and for not obeying your commands!"

 Leaping to his feet the saint thrust off the disgusting garments he had been carrying as his own.  Joyously he casts the garment of praise over his shoulders and in an ecstatic leap and majestic twirl, new praise bursts forth from his lips as the song in his heart explodes in praise and worship to His God and King.  Once again he laughs gloriously and joyously as he realizes that he is standing in none other than the Holy of Holies.

 

A Cartoonist, Graphic Facilitator and Creative Life Coach, Shannon Parish devotes her life to encouraging those who are fed up with the 'status-quo' and are determined to discover and pursue their purpose and destiny in life through one-on-one mentoring, facilitated workshops and retreats.

 

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(c) copyright 2010 All world rights reserved, Shannon Parish, Living Stones Center.
For reprint permission, please email me.

 

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Sarah's Tent (Est. 1997)
Living Stones Center
Broomfield, CO  80020-4801

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Copyright 1997-2009 Shannon Parish All rights reserved

 

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