A note from Kelly King: Even though it’s been many years, I can still remember when I was on the swim team in high school and occasionally our coach made us wear heavy clothing in the pool to add weight to our workout. The heaviness of the extra clothing—especially when it was completely wet—made swimming a struggle, yet it built additional muscle and stamina. In today’s article, Stephanie Edge uses a similar example of how we add weight to our spiritual journeys when we carry burdens that are meant to be left with the Lord. My prayer is that this article encourages you today to lay aside the extra burdens you may be carrying and trust the Lord to take them.
Physical illustrations often mimic spiritual realities. Years ago, I heard a message reflecting on extra weight that we can accumulate and carry as we move through life. The visual focal point of the story was a backpack. The speaker carefully placed it on his back and began to walk across the stage. Stones of all sizes were located at various points along his path. As he moved from side to side, he stopped occasionally to pick up a stone, read aloud the words written on it, and place the stone in the bag. Moving from stone to stone, he repeated the process over and over. Eventually, he stood still, sighed, and mentioned the heaviness of the backpack.
Recently, this picture came to the forefront of my mind. The inscriptions on those stones were worries that we intentionally and sometimes even unintentionally collect along our journeys. Take a moment to peek into your backpack. What stones are you carrying? Maybe it’s a concern for a loved one who needs Jesus, bad health, financial obligations, the success of your women’s ministry, a dream or vision, unconfessed sin, broken relationships, the obligations of marriage, career, or motherhood. The list of potential burdens exceeds my ability to name them.
I recently attended a women’s retreat with the theme, “Rest.” The call to action at the end of the first session was “Let go.” Let go of what? Let go of those things which hinder, inhibit, and hold you back. Things in your past, present, and potential future that prohibit you from experiencing the joy and life God intends for His children to have. “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).
To better understand what carrying unnecessary weight does to one physically and spiritually, I grabbed a backpack and walked around my yard to a flower bed. Stones recently had been laid along the edges to serve as a barrier against soil erosion that comes after a heavy rain. Processing the extra weight I am currently carrying, I picked up two moderately-sized stones indicating my heaviest personal concerns. The backpack fit nicely, and I began to walk down the street thinking this was not bad, and it was actually comfortable. I made it to the end of the street and back with relatively no trouble.
Then, I stopped to examine my thoughts more closely. There were several more stones or cares that I placed in the pack. I walked a shorter distance and returned. This time the newly added stones were smaller, but still representative of burdens. More stones were added until the bag almost would not close properly. I hoisted the backpack on once more. The weight had increased to an uncomfortable point. I took a few steps and laid the bag aside. Then, it also occurred to me that there are some burdens that we carry with us everywhere. With the backpack, I began walking around the house completing tasks. The heaviness of the stones became a not-so-fun reality. The weighted backpack was a physical, outward representation of an inward reality.
What can we learn from this illustration?
- We were not built to carry additional weights (sins, concerns, burdens). Extra baggage can cause us to grow weary and to want to give up. “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
- Jesus knows and cares about us. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—’plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Jesus invites us to give Him our concerns. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Are you tired? What burdens (stones) are you attempting to carry or to take care of on your own? Will you join me in laying those weights at the feet of Jesus?
“Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).
“Blessed be the Lord! Day after day he bears our burdens; God is our salvation” (Psalm 68:19).
Stephanie Edge has a passion for teaching God’s Word and ministering to women. She served in Women’s Ministry in the local church for sixteen years and worked in College Ministry for ten years. Stephanie graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. She also completed a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Stephanie currently is an Associate Professor at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and teaches adjunct for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.