“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 our for us.”
I was watching a very clever ad on the TV, the other night that caught my attention because I perceived a much deeper meaning in its portrayal than the producers had intended. The ad was from a bank and the gist of the action was how debt, and worrying about it, destroyed enjoyment no matter what one did. It featured people going about their everyday lives, but in each sequence, they were carrying another person on their shoulders. They showed a man playing hockey, but the man around his shoulders was such a burden he played badly and had no fun in the game. One other was a young working mother, coming home to her family and the other woman she carried on her shoulders only added to her overworked life. The message was; “Get debt off your back”.
As I was watching , I thought this is a wonderful message for many of us in our Christian walk who are carrying what I call, “excess baggage” that not only burdens us, but destroys our joy and vitality and limits our blossoming as true followers of Jesus Christ. The “excess baggage” can take on all sorts of forms. Worry is one of those tiresome burdens that can weigh us down and seems to override our productivity, robs us of peace, disturbs our sleep and casts a pall over all we attempt.
Jesus implores us to get rid of this joy robber.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
We can also load ourselves down with guilt which when added to the baggage already there, casts gloom over the brightest day as the psalmist says
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” (Psalm 38:4)
If Jesus was writing an ad his beautiful invitation would be written in huge letters, at the end, offering not a bank loan, but a perfect solution to all these problems,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I was discussing with a friend recently, both of us experts in the field of worry, of how hard it is to rid ourselves of our own baggage and we both agreed that most of it is self-inflicted. She said to me, half in jest, give me your worries and I will give you mine and then we will both be free. Later on thinking back on our conversation I realised that God’s word says exactly that.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Being brave enough to share with another is a great way to lighten the burden.
The other truth I gained from my conversation with my friend was the realisation that what is weighing us down is often self-inflicted, Jesus assured us he came to give us the abundant life, not a burdensome one. He is longing to free us from anything that would spoil our close walk with him and Paul when writing to the Galatians urges them to remember we can be free from any burden, self-inflicted or otherwise.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
When we feel the weight of “excess baggage” we just need to stand up, look up and feel the relief as it slips off our shoulders.