Gratitude is expressed to Pamela Kent-Balasco for bringing this song to my attention.
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (Common English Bible)
All On Me, a song with a catchy melody and recorded by country music artist, Devin Dawson, is an invitation by the narrator to someone who is deeply loved and is experiencing a heavy load: “You got my number you can call on me. If you’re in trouble put the fall on me. When you’re mad you can take it out on me.” And a few stanzas later, “When it gets heavy put the weight on me. Baby put it all on me. Put it all on me.” Dawson said in an interview with Taste of Country that he has a personal connection with this track because he’ll do anything to take some of the heavy load from his girlfriend. Crafting the lyrics with Austin Smith, bandmate, and Jacob Durrett, Dawson was looking to articulate something he could get behind fully, something that expresses the depth of the commitment he was prepared to make to another.
In this single sentence spoken by Jesus Christ, and captured by the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is making the same commitment, “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads.” Often Jesus is understood as someone who teaches wisdom for our daily living, providing wise counsel for the multiple decisions that press against each one of us. But the language here is something richer and more gracious than simply offering direction along our daily journey of life. There will be moments in life when direction isn’t what we most urgently need. I speak of those moments, common to everyone, when the journey becomes hard and the load we bear is heavy. In those moments, Jesus reminds us that he is very present with us and invites us to shift some of the burden we carry to his shoulders; “and I will give you rest.”
Jesus becomes more than someone who gives wise and intelligent guidance for the living of each day. The good news that is offered here is that life isn’t simply a matter of human effort. Certainly, Jesus provides insight, but Jesus does more. Jesus is a constant companion who is always available to share our burdens and give us rest. The “rest” Jesus promises is love, healing and peace with God. When the weight of the world causes us to stumble, Jesus is present to catch us, stand us back on our feet, and give encouragement to take the next steps forward. Life has now become a holy partnership that mingles human striving with the strength of God. No longer is the struggle of life a solo act. Jesus asks, “Come to me.” Jesus desires to share company with us.
Dawson loves the line in this track, “When it don’t add up, you can count on me.” It is a simple but clever turn of phrase that invites another way of looking at life – an uncommon approach that realizes that when life fails to work one way, another direction is available. Jesus’ life and ministry was a continuous invitation to see the wondrous possibilities available to anyone who trusts in God. Yes, failure is part of life. But defeat does not have to be our story. Jesus is present to God’s people and that changes the mathematical equation of life. Near the end of this song, the narrator sings, “C’mon relax your mind on me. When you need a shoulder, you can cry on me. Baby you can bet your life on me.” In this season of Lent, we hear Jesus saying the same thing to us, “bet your life on me.” Then Jesus turns once again, and climbs-up on a cross.