Heavy Load

Heavy Load

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:29, NIV)

When I was fourteen years old, I went on an oversees trip to Hungary.  Since we were first stopping in Oklahoma for training, I needed two bags: a regular one for the OK camp and a backpack for the oversees travel.  The backpack needed to be sleek, innovative, carry all I needed for the oversees part, and, above all, be very light.  I’d have to carry it through the airport and up & down the streets of Hungary.

My mom invested in what in 1998 to a non-hiking family was a very expensive backpack.  I think we paid $89.  And this was not money we had floating around in the sky.  I knew what a gift it was for my mom to buy it.

It was a beauty.  Lithe, streamlined, and heavy-duty.  Exactly what my mom had in mind.  It was designed to be no burden.

There was one problem, though.

My hoarding.

When I got to Oklahoma, things fell apart at the seams.  I experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety about leaving the country, and my backpack became my security blanket.  Rather than leaving the intended amount behind at the camp and packing only what I needed, I tried to stuff as much as I could in my backpack.  I don’t remember all that I crammed inside, but I do remember knowing the things inside were going to be ruined by the pressure.   And I was right.  Cookies I’d wanted to save were crumbled, and shampoo or something like it burst on the airplane flight.

I remember the time I started realizing how alone I was.  At the airport, the guys would help carry the girls’ backpacks voluntarily, but few wanted to carry mine even when I pleaded.  I remember at one point the thin, short, sweet leader of my group carrying my backpack herself to help me out.

I was embarrassed none of the boys really wanted to help me.  But this made me want to hoard my things even more.  I needed this stuff.  It might help me get through what was looking like a very long trip.  So throughout much of the trip, I kept even things I knew I was never going to use.

I stored a bent, melted box of chocolates simply because my mom had bought it for me and I didn’t want to leave it behind.  I didn’t want to leave anything behind.  Even trash.  Somehow trash became sentimental for me, and I didn’t want to part with it. And even if the stuff didn’t help me, how could I leave it behind now?  If I threw things away, I’d have to take them out of my backpack first.  And the other teens would think I was weird for keeping stuff like a crumpled box of ruined chocolates in my bag.  They might even make fun of me.

The more time went by, the heavier my load felt.  By the time we were walking down the streets of Hungary, I was feeling a numb twinge in my back I’d never felt before.  This started a back pain that did not resolve itself just because we arrived back home.  I’d done too much damage, lifting something that was far too heavy for me to try to carry.

The “unnecessariness” of my heavy load, the shame I experienced from carrying trash on my back, the difficulty finding any of the handsome boys to carry my backpack for me, and the deep damage of the experience to my back and, far worse, to my feelings . . reminds me of what it’s like to carry a heavy spiritual load around in this life.

The backpack God gives us to carry around our spiritual stuff is incredible: ergonomic, state-of-the-arc, and intricately designed for every good thing we might want to carry.  But sin—our choice to turn away from God—ruined the way we look at our backpack.  Rather than storing precious memories and good works to show our Father, we often pack away grudges, failures, disappointments, and our most horrible mistakes.  The problem is, we were never meant to carry such weighty, bulky things.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:29, NIV)

Jesus makes an incredible claim, and it’s not the world’s sort of claim of trading in our old backpack for a larger model to carry more sin.   God’s claim is that we can dump the wadded-up trash, ruined possessions, mold, and dirt in our backpack directly on Him.  (For the origin of this analogy, please see Max Lucado’s beautiful book Next Door Savior or the booklet He Did This Just For You.)

Jesus suffered for your sin and my sin personally at the cross.

I could hardly convince the boys at the airport to carry my backpack, even with cajoling and pleading and pathetic flirting.  But with God, we don’t have to worry about begging Him to forgive us—He is eager and waiting to do so!  The Message of the Cross is God running up to us, arms outstretched, ready to take our worst burdens on Himself so we can be free.  All we have to do is hand our heavy load over.

Jesus, I give you my heavy load.  The burden is grave.  Please empty my bag of its disgusting sin and fill it with Your featherweight grace.  I bow down to You, Jesus, the only One able to carry my load.

Thank you for wanting to.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:29, NIV)