Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.” Hebrews 12:1b
I thought it felt heavy. You might remember I told you a story about a group of friends from our church in Cobden, Illinois who took a trip up to Mount Leconte in North Carolina. In that particular story I slipped on a slippery rock and earned the name, “Chief Wounded Cheek.” Well, that wasn’t the only story from that trip. There was a least one more. You see, even though we were only staying one night, most of us still had a backpack full of stuff to tote up the mountain.
What do you carry up a mountain? Well, I guess it all depends on the person. I know one lady in our group had her husband carry just about everything but the kitchen sink. I remember we laughed when we found out she was taking her curling iron. It wasn’t that it was inappropriate it’s just that the top of the mountain didn’t have any electricity! In my case, I decided to leave the curling iron at home (smile) but did have a good selection of food. I mean can you ever have too much food? I didn’t think so.
So finally, with our packs on our backs, we headed up the mountain. The climb took us most of the day. It was about five and a half miles and a lot of it was…up. We went up and up and up and finally we made it. The lodge was rustic, but the feeling of accomplishment made it all more than worthwhile. Bob, our leader, said when we got there, they would give us some of the best hot chocolate in the world. Well, they did but honestly, I think it was some of the best because we were pretty tired, pretty chilled, and pretty desperate.
For supper he told us we would be having canned horse meat. Remember there was no electricity and that meant no refrigeration. As it turned out, it really wasn’t horse meat, but I do believe it was canned and for the record…it was pretty stinking good. Pretty soon it was time for lights out…well, there really weren’t any lights because…well, you know why. We slept well, got up and had breakfast and soon started our journey back down the mountain.
I threw my backpack on my back and started the journey down. I remember being surprised how heavy my backpack felt. Again, a lot of what I carried up was food and it was no longer there…well, at least not in my backpack. Anyway, we continued walking and after about an hour or so, it was time for a break. I found a place to sit down, being careful of my “wounded cheek,” and opened by backpack for a quick snack. And I found a surprise.
Yup, my backpack was heavy all right. It turned out that some of the guys in the group had put several grapefruit size rocks inside. They were just waiting for me to make the discovery and when I did, they laughed—we laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore. I love practical jokes regardless of what end of the stick I am on—giving or receiving. Well, needless to say the rocks came out and the pack was considerably lighter and we had a new story to tell along with my new “wounded cheek” name.
I learned a great lesson that day. First and foremost—check your backpack—especially when you are traveling with a group of guys who love practical jokes. I also learned that you should never carry extra weight up or down the mountain. Period. And in hindsight, that is true with hiking and that is true in life. All of us have this tendency to carry extra weight around…and I’m not talking about around our waist. I am talking about things that tend to weigh us down. It might be a bad habit, or it could be the consequence of not starting a habit we should have, like exercise. It might be misplaced priorities that steal time away from family. Whatever it is, the truth is we need to chuck the unneeded and unnecessary.
Paul, one of the big writers of the Christian New Testament, said that we should lay aside every weight and the sin that slows us down. Now that is good advice. As we travel through this life, let’s get ready to go but let’s also be sure and check our backpacks. We never know what might be in there and weighing us down. If you need help figuring it all out, just ask the One who made it all. You know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne