Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Back Pack

The Back Pack

Hebrews 12:1 says, "There fore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...

One day while running on the treadmill, praying and chasing the bouncing balls of my thoughts, one of the balls can to rest on this scripture. Actually, this was probably as couple days worth of ending up on this scripture. As i pondered the scripture, a pucture began to take shape in my head. I began to thinkg about the weights that so easily beset us and what that meant. What are the weights that so easily beset me? For the weights are different for each of us. As I pondered this, the most ridiculous and amazing picture materialized in my head. Almost from birth, we begin to pick up weights. They are like stones. When we are children, they are small and seemingly weightless. We begin to put these little rockes into our pockets. They are the small things. A rock might be when mom snaps at us because she has her mond on a troublesome issue and we demand too much attention. Some fo these rockes are when our sibling breaks a treasured toy or takes something that belongs to us. The rocks are broken promises, missed opportunities, being told no, being punished mabye for something we didn't even do. Before long our pockets ar full of lttle stones. Now for some whose childhood starts off very haed the stones are not really small stones; sometimes they are large rocks. These rocks are being hit, abused, left to fend for oneself, harsh words. Somewhere along the way our pockets get too full and we decide to get a back pack for ourselves. We don't realize it, but as we live we trade in those packs for bigger and bigger packs. We continue to collect these rocks. Only the rocks become bigger. I could just see myself walking around throwing these rocks in my pack which I could see had gotten big like a mountain climber pack. Every time I got my feelings hurt, every time I got stolen from, every time I was abused, every time I got my heart broken, every disappointment, every shame; I tossed in rock after rock after rock. My pack was full of regret, remorse, anger, bitterness, blame, shame, judgement, brokenness, deep wounds, mistakes, fear, loss. There were rocks to record every wrong ever done to me and every wrong I had ever done.

In addition to the rocks I picked up, I found there are plenty of other people more than willing to ad rocks to my pack. My parents put rocks of expectations in. Some of the rocks they gave me were rocks their partns put into thier packs. Some of the rocks were dreams they had for me, dreams they never accomplished and expected to live out in me. Sometimes the rocks were labels put on me by parents, teachers and peers. The church excitedly added rocks of judgement, guilt, legalistic rules, standards, and mask I needed to where to cover up.


I began to realize I (we) valued my backpack as a prize. The bigger the pack the better. Sometimes I defined myself and my value by the size of my backpack. As I ran I could imagine the weight of that backpack and how difficult it is to run with a huge pack on ones back. I began to see that the weight of the pack had kept me from running the race efficiently. I had been burning all of my fuel carrying the weight of my pack. It was like a tiny little Toyota towing a fulling loaded tractor trailor. Were it even possible for a Toyota to tow that weight, imagine how terrible the gas mileage would be. I ran and ran and ran, but felt like I never got very far. I felt so weighed down and heavy. No wonder the race seems so impossible to run. I have never seen a marathon runner running a race while carrying a heavy pack on his back. Marathon runners dress light and carry little or nothing.

Then the rest of the verse came to me, "Let us lay aside the weight." Lay aside the weight. What did that mean? "Run with endurance the race set before us." Wow!! Jesus wanted me to trade in my huge backpack for a new pair of running shoes. He says, "let me carry that pack for you. I already took it; I paid for it. See how much faster you can run without the weight. See how much easier it is to run without the pack." Revolutionary. It seemed unorthodox, unnatural, wrong. I was so used to the weight that it didn't feel right to run without it. Most everyone I know has a pack; what if I don't fit in without a pack? I am so used to seeing the pack on me and everyone else. "Who am I, if I am not the one with the biggest pack?"

Now trading in the pack does have its conditions. Jesus wants to carry it and He wants all of us to have new running shoes so we can run fast. He wants us to be an example and to teach others to run fast. But there is a price for the trade. When we take of the pack, we have to completely let go of it. That means we give up the right to continue keeping a record of wrongs done to us. That has to go with the pack. Forgiveness is a choice that takes a lifetime, in some cases, to work out and a lot of God's grace. We may have to shoose to let go and forgive on a daily basis, but it is a choice we must make in order to trade in our packs. It also means we have to give up the right to use the rocks as excuses for our behavior and for not doing all the we can or becoming all that we are capable of. We give up the right for retribution or revenge.

For some that trade is not one they are willing to make. Sometimes the idea of life without the pack is scary. We are so used to the weight of the pack; it is almost comforting. We have grwon so used to running with the weight we don't like the how the freedom of running weightless feels. Surely Jesus must want us to carry some of it. If we make the habit of choosing to run without the backpack, we will learn to love the liberty and exhilaration of running without the weight of the pack. We will see how much more ground we can cover without the pack. We will even learn not to pick up the rocks anymore. We will use the rocks of our hurt, injustice and struggle to build alters of worship to God. As we build the alters of worship, we will find that we leave the rocks and offenses behind and learn to ive in a new liberty and joy. Just as we can choose not to pick up rocks, we can also choose not to carry the rocks others hand us. I decided I wanted to run the race lighter so daily I choose to live without the pack. Some days it is harder than other days not to pick it up. We get used to picking up the pack every day and putting it on our backs. I have found that it is waiting beside my bed every day for me to put on. I have a choice each day. Do I put on the pack or do I put on the running shoes? God graciously allows me to make whatever choice I want, but He also gives me the desire and ability to make the choice for running shoes.

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