I miss shoulder pads. Classy women’s clothes that made a statement. I’ve inwardly longed for them to come back. They never have. So I finally released a pile of outdated dresses and suits dating back to the millennium. It doesn’t do any good to hold on to things for the next go-around. It seems the experts always make some design adjustment before resurrecting a vintage look.
But there is an advantage to removing the pads. No more uncomfortable, unsteady, and sometimes unsightly forms hugging the neck. The natural look reigns. Now bony SHOULDERS shine through. Or square. Or round. Or droopy. Or saggy. Or broad.
Funny how our SHOULDERS almost define us. Square SHOULDERS depict confidence and determination. Rounded ones, the impression of intimidation and uncertainty. The droopy SHOULDER reveals overwhelming burdens. Saggy SHOULDERS, defeat. Soft SHOULDERS offer no support. But if SHOULDERS are broad, everyone thinks of a strong leader, ready to take on anything life throws at them.
I was absolutely astounded when I saw all the references to SHOULDERS in scripture. One in particular talks about the strength of our Lord’s. He is most capable of ruling my life circumstances. It’s sheer nonsense to try to do it alone. In fact, things go better when I let Him take the load.
The government will be upon His SHOULDERS. Isaiah 9:6
Before Jesus came, Israel’s high priest wore a linen ephod with SHOULDER straps every time he entered the presence of God on the people’s behalf. Six stones on each SHOULDER strap represented the tribes of Israel. He literally carried the people tribe by tribe before the Lord. He carried their burdens for them. Thankfully, Jesus does the same for us today.
The Bible deals with the body language of SHOULDERS. Israel is described as stubbornly turning the SHOULDER away in rebellion, revealing their hearts were hard as stone. (Zechariah 7:11). A defiant shrug or a turning of the SHOULDERS indicating disobedience to God’s commands.
Then there’s the warning to Israel’s fat sheep pushing and butting their way to scatter the weak. (Ezekiel 34:21). There’s no mincing of words here. How many of us know people who shoulder-push their way through life. Okay if you’re a Colts Linebacker. Not okay in your daily walk with God. Israel was often referred to as stiff-necked and obstinate. They complained and whined. Submission was out of the question, even though they had eyewitnessed dry paths through raging waters and angel food raining down from heaven. They wanted it their way.
I long for the submissive SHOULDER. The one that trusts. The one that rests. My worries don’t add anything to my life, not even an inch to my stature says the Lord. In contrast, worries become idols of my own making when I put them on my own SHOULDERS. Fretting. Fearing. Devising. All idols.
Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it.
Then they bow down and worship it.
They carry it around on their SHOULDERS and when they set it down, it stays there. Isaiah 46:6-7
What a stark contrast to our living God who says He carries us and our burdens on His SHOULDERS. In the Old Testament, the SHOULDER of a sacrificed animal was saved to serve the king. It was the finest portion. It was the sign of honor and respect. Could that be how I honor the Lord today…by sacrificing the need to fret, fear and devise. I quit carrying the heavy load. I give it over to Him. The burden transferred. A form of worship. The Lord’s voice whispers in our ear,
I will take the load from your SHOULDERS; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. Psalm 81:6
Scripture tells us to cast our burdens on the Lord. So why do we try to carry them alone? He wants to relieve the pressure…to free us. A promise of rest is waiting.
The one the Lord loves rests between His SHOULDERS. Deuteronomy 33:12
Like a shepherd carrying the lamb, He carries us…perfecting everything that concerns us. If we could only learn to rest between our Shepherd’s SHOULDERS. The weight of the world no longer our own. Appealing freedom and rest welcome those who learn the SHOULDER-TRANSFER.