People pack for journeys, but come to places where the things they carry are not worth their weight: The Oregon Trail was littered with possessions of desperate pioneers. Ship crews toss valuable cargo overboard in storms to lighten their loads. And Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton, told his men to purge themselves of personal possessions, as every ounce would weigh against their survival. He then ripped Psalm 23 from his Bible, placed his Bible in the snow, and walked away.
In Hebrews we’re encouraged to lighten our load in the same way:
“… Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV)
God is telling us to cast off spiritual clutter, things that hinder and entangle us, and make room for him and his will. Yet we’ve grown accustom to our loads – things that are, at best, distractions and, at worst, secret stowaways sucking the life from us. Sometimes we’re simply ignorant of these hindrances, sometimes we’re reluctant to part ways with our comfortable traveling companions, and sometimes we're unable to free ourselves of weights that have deep, barbed hooks buried deep in our souls. Whatever the case may be, if we humble ourselves before God, pray and seek him, he will enable us to "throw off" these loads. And let's not forget that he's given us the gift of each other. Let's come alongside one another -- let's love, pray for and encourage each other on this spiritual trek. By the grace of God working through us, let's lighten each other's loads.
Father, you are a God of love and mercy and grace. Will you give us eyes to see what hinders and entangles us? Let our way be littered with things that have no value compared to the beauty of your love and grace. Help us to love each other and minister your grace to each other. In the name of Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, we pray. Amen.
- Carol Ganzevoort