I recently made my first visit to Wilson’s Prom, the southernmost national park on mainland Australia. It was a beautiful, memorable experience. The sheer natural beauty of the area more than met my expectations and it was the first time I had taken my nine-year-old daughter on an overnight hiking adventure. I will certainly be heading back soon.
In the space of 24 hours we walked more than 17km, both carrying packs on our backs. At times Imogen needed relief from her pack, so I was walking with a heavy pack on my back and her lighter pack on my front. While the scenery and company were wonderful, the longer we walked, the more I could feel the weight on my back. My shoulders were telling me it was time for a rest.
When we finally arrived at our beachside campsite we both threw our packs off our backs. It was a simple act, but what a relief, what a difference it made. Suddenly even the nature around me took a different perspective because I felt free to explore. Literally, life was lighter.
What followed was a special afternoon and evening; time to cherish with my beautiful girl, with the added bonus of having the camp ground and beach to ourselves for the whole evening. We played on the beach, climbed rocks, filmed silly videos, took many sunset photos and ate our not-so-gourmet camp dinner.
The next day as we hiked back from Oberon Bay, the weight was back. The pack was on my back again and my mind pondered how so often we can all become “weighed down” in life.
The expectations of others
Fear and anxiety
Pain, hurt and disappointment
Bitterness and resentment
Bad habits or unhelpful behaviours
The list could go on! There are so many things in life that can feel like a heavy weight strapped on our back and we don’t know how to be free of it.
Greek mythology gave us the phrase: “the weight of the world on our shoulders’. According to the mythology, Zeus was angry that a group of people, called the Titans, was fighting the Olympians. The Olympians were the other gods. Zeus chose one of them, Atlas, to punish. He condemned Atlas to hold the heavens on his back. The purpose was to separate earth and heaven, which would prevent the two from mixing so much.
Today, are you carrying a heavy load? Do you feel weighed down? What might be getting in the way of you feeling “light” in life? What is emotionally restricting you?
In Hebrews 12 we read: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 perfector of faith.”
I find myself often coming back to this athletic metaphor in my life. It’s such a helpful, practical reminder of the hindrance unnecessary “weight” is in life. To run well, the first-century athlete needed to run light.
So often, without even seeing it, in the busyness of life we start to carry more and more emotional baggage. We allow issues or other people to define our story and worth; we become too focused on our circumstances. We take on a survival mentality or we accept “this is how things are” even as we genuinely yearn for change.
Today what do you need to throw off? Where do you need to discover a new lightness in life?
The Hebrew writer encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus so we can run well, so we can run light. One key way we do this is by regularly coming to Jesus and placing before him the weight we can’t carry on our own; our worries, our fears; our hurts; the things that we can’t control; the things we know that are getting in the way of the life we want to live.
Jesus himself gave us this simple but life-transforming invitation: “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.” Matthew 11:28-30
The older I get, the simpler it becomes. In the busyness, messiness, brokenness and complexity of life I need to remind myself daily:
- • How easily I can take on “baggage” that I shouldn’t be carrying.
- • How often I need to realise there are things in life I cannot control.
- • How I can’t allow others or my circumstances to shape my identity and worth.
- • How when I try to do life on my own and face things in my own strength I more than often mess things up.
- • How much less enjoyable life seems when my pack is heavy!
These five practical reminders show me how much I need the peace, strength, power and grace of Jesus at work in my life, relationships and world. I need to be coming to Jesus each day, so I can gain right perspective and discover freedom from all that the world seeks to place on me.
Here’s to running light! Here’s to all of us shedding “weight” so we can experience more of the life Jesus wants us to experience.