Legend of Bagger Vance, The Lay Down Your Burdens
Rannulph Junuh (played by Matt Damon) is a fantastic young golfer from Savannah, Georgia. He wins several amateur championships and garners the love and support of all of Georgia. Unfortunately, his career is sidetracked by World War I, and though he survives, he experiences severe post-traumatic stress disorder after the war which completely destroys his game. When he returns home, he does so as a lonely drunk.
He abandons the game of golf for a long time, until he gets an invitation to play in his hometown against two of the greatest players in history. But his demons still burden him greatly – this is clear in the film when he suffers a wartime flashback after a string of bad shots. His caddy, Bagger Vance tries to help him deal with his burdens.
When Junuh angrily rejects Bagger’s calm encouragement – saying, “You don’t understand” over and over again, Bagger retorts with advice that reaches beyond the game of golf.
Bagger: “I don’t need to understand. Ain’t a soul on this entire earth ain’t got a burden he gotta carry that he don’t understand. You ain’t alone in that. But you been carrying this one long enough. Time to go on, lay it down.”
Junuh was one messed up dude. He suffered from what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder, though he wouldn’t have called it that way back then. Instead of dealing with his problems, Junuh had tried to drink them away, gamble them away, and even ignore them away. But as the scene discussed revealed, those burdens still hung around his neck.
His caddy, Bagger Vance, shared some great advice with him. He basically said, “All of us have burdens in life, and we don’t always even understand why. But we must put them down, regardless.”
- What did Junuh say in response to Bagger’s advice to lay down his burden?
- What advice would you have given Junuh about his burden in life?
- Do you know people/friends/family members who have burdens? What are some examples of those burdens?
- Sadly, Junuh’s response to Bagger’s encouragement was not uncommon to how many people often face the chance to fight their burdens – simply by resolving, “I don’t know how.” Fortunately Jesus Himself has told us what to do with our burdens in Scripture.
- Let’s take a look at that now:Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- This passage is often called “The Great Invitation.” Why do you think it’s called that?
- This passage makes it sound as though Jesus is encouraging us to “trade” burdens with him. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
- Jesus not only says to take His yoke upon our lives, but also to learn from Him. Why is that important, too?
- In the film
The Legend of Bagger Vance
- , we see a man crumble because of the burdens he was carrying in his soul. He suffered so greatly, in fact, that he was shaking uncontrollably and was on the verge of losing his mind. Fortunately, he had a friend close by that told him his real problem was not a bad golf shot, but an unresolved burden.
Bagger Vance told Junuh to put his burden down because he had been carrying it long enough. I think that’s exactly what Jesus is offering to us. He’s saying,
“Give Me your burden in exchange for Mine. Yours is heavy and mine is light. But when you pick up My burden, make sure to keep your eyes on Me so you can learn from Me, too.”
- But sadly, some of us will respond the exact same way Junuh responded:
I don’t know how.
- Do you know how to trade your burden with Jesus? It’s simple.
- 2,000 years ago, Jesus willingly gave His life on the cross in exchange for our sins. It’s our sins, our regret, our guilt, our shame, and our mistakes that burden us down. What Jesus is offering us is an exchange based on His death on the cross. He essentially says to us,
“Hey, I died to exchange your guilt for freedom, so give Me your burdens in exchange for My life.”
- For some of us, that may be as simple as asking Jesus to rescue us from our sin. The Bible calls that getting saved.
- For others, it may be more difficult. We might need to go to a close friend and ask for forgiveness. The Bible calls that reconciliation.
- Others of us may be burdened down in guilt and so we’ll need to set the record straight on something from the past. The Bible calls that confession.
- Whatever it is, let me remind you of the words of Bagger Vance:
“You’ve been carrying that one long enough.”
- Now let me remind you of the words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
- Like Junuh, the choice is yours. I hope you choose to give Jesus your burdens. After all, it was His offer!
- What burdens are you carrying right now?
- How are you dealing with them? Is that working?
- How will you give your burdens to Jesus so that you can be set free from them?
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.