Original article posted/blogged February 2016.
A few weeks ago I joined a rather large group of men on a camping trip. We hiked what we were initially were told “about a mile” that ended up being around three miles one-way. Now it wasn’t so much of the distance that ended up making it extremely challenging, it was the weight of my back pack, and the extra duffle bag and a bulky rather heavier than usual sleeping bag. In addition the hike up and down steep hills in the mud made it even more challenging.
The weight of the back pack I estimated at around 70 lbs, and the duffle bag was at least 50 lbs. Well needless to say I had to take a few breaks until one of the other men had to threaten me to get me to hand over the extra duffle bag and sleeping bag. I finally agreed and I am actually very glad that he did take it, as I thought I was near a heart attack, or at the minimum loosing consciousness. I am a bit over weight, and very much out of shape that added to the challenge.
We go through life with our very own personal metaphorical “back pack” It may start when we are very young. And many times they are packed with rocks to boulders of pains, hurts, loss, lack of confidence, lack of self worth, humiliation, sin, guilt, shame, and regret.
You may of been called fat, or wimpy as a child and it affected your own self confidence. Your mother or father may of not appreciated you, or even ridiculed you to the point of telling you they wish you were smarter, more organized, more athletic, or more like someone else’s son or daughter so you put another boulder into your back pack of low self esteem, anger, and shame. You took that rock and the weight of it in the form of loss of confidence, or feelings of worthlessness and put it in your own personal back pack.
When you become an adult, you may of had a break up with the love of your life, or even worse you go through a painful divorce, and maybe you have children that mean the world to you, that go through it with you. As you proceed with your life, your back pack becomes even heavier, yet you hold onto the weight of this regret, shame, low self-esteem, worthlessness, and anger. You pack another boulder in your personal back pack of feelings of inadequacy, failure, and worthlessness.
Maybe you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, or you made a drastic mistake, or was around the wrong crowd and ended up in prison. Or you acquire a mental illness that you suffer from that was caused by past events, genetics, or injury. Or you maybe you gave into peer pressure, and/or “self-medicate” and get addicted to alcohol or drugs. You then add another boulder to that back pack of a label, regret, shame, worthlessness, feelings of failure, and feelings of hopelessness unable to see the light through the tunnel.
Then you may lose your job and, or God forbid, a family member or two. You then heave another boulder into that back pack to where you are weighed so down, the bag is so heavy that you nearly cannot move. You feel as though you cannot take another step. You are so exhausted and feel so worthless you are near to the end of your rope and feel as if you are even near to death. Yet you barely craw, filled with so much shame, or maybe pride you do not ask for help, not a soul, and not even by your own Creator.
What is in your back pack? Are you holding onto guilt, shame, regret, or anger. Is your back pack so heavy that you feel near worthless and that you do not even know if you may be able to take another step. You not only feel it emotionally, and mentally to your very soul; you even feel it physically that your body is in pain?
Jesus said, “To all those who are weary, cast your burden upon me and I will give you rest.” In the bible it further says, “Bear ye one another burdens as so fulfill the law of Christ.” Another verse is “Pray ye one for another, the effectual prayer of a righteous man availath much.” Over and over again the bible gives each of us the direction and way to lessen the weight of our back packs to removing them all together. This is done by seeking Him, reading His word, going to church to worship, praise and learn. To fellowship with the body of Christ, which is the fellowship of believers. God works through people, and the Holy Spirit in them. God has also equipped professionals in doctors, well taught Holy Spirit filled pastors, and even medications if so required or advised by a professional to help us remove the weights of our back packs when we may seem we cannot take another step.
My favorite verse that seems to put it all together is:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” — Hebrews 12:1–3 (ESV)
Jesus told us there will be troubles and trials in this world. He also said Do Not Fear, for He has overcome the world, and He has given us at the time of salvation a comforter in the Holy Spirit.
The things is we do not have to pack up that back pack, and keep putting rocks and boulders in it over and over again. We have examples in what is called “The Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 of people. Imperfect , broken, and even those with disabilities used greatly by God because they had faith and pressed on. These people of faith also allowed God to use people in their life to help, inspire, pray, and work along side them to accomplish amazing and miraculous things for healing, restoration, and inevitably all for the cause of Christ.
I am so very glad this other man came along to help me when I was hiking those three miles up steep hills full of rocks and mud. Although I was stubborn at first, and he had to near threaten me, I am enviably glad he came along side of me and helped me. You too are not alone. God is there, and He has sent His people. Sometimes we may have to knock, other times He and the body of believers are right in front of your face. Do not be so stubborn filled with pride, or blocked by the forrest of valleys in life and circumstances not to see the light through the trees.
ALL of us have our own personal back packs sometimes called “baggage”. Do not keep putting those rocks and boulders in your personal back pack. Let it go! Give it to God! You are a new creature in Christ capable of amazing and miraculous things. Lay those rocks and boulders aside, do not let sin “cling” to you, YOU ARE FORGIVEN and SAVED by GRACE! You are important. You matter and YOU ARE NOT the SUM of YOUR MISTAKES or PAST. Run the race of life, which is a marathon race, not a sprint; and press on looking to Jesus our perfecter of faith, our salvation and our strength. Do not grow faint, weary ,and give up. Jesus died for each of us, conquered death and sitting on the right side of the throne of God interceding for us, and there is an entire body of Christ in believers that will be there to help you finish this marathon, and may you fight the good fight with the Full Armor of God and finish it well!