Have you ever determined to be happy
or to be positive,
to stop worrying . . .
to live in a state of gratitude
or possibly to be contented,
to only say good things . . .
but you just couldn't break through?
Maybe there is a reason.
Segue . . . quite a few years ago-okay, many years ago--in another galaxy far away, I used to teach these grueling 30-minute 'abs' classes-you know, where we did nothing but sit-ups and every conceivable derivation thereof to strengthen and define the abdominal muscles. One of my faithful attendees was a professional workout dude--an army vet who lived off his pension, and just worked out all day long. At 39 years of age, 6 ft., 6 in. tall Tom was quite a physical specimen--202 pounds, and just two percent body fat...yes, 2 %. 'You get the idea? I remember watching him run along the beach, dragging a 75-pound rucksack behind him to challenge and strengthen his body, working his core, his quadriceps and so on. What an image! It was hard work and a lot of strain on Tom to run fast with that dragging through the sand behind him, but that was the idea.
But here's the thing--unless we are workout fiends of Tom's ilk,
we are not meant to go through life
dragging heavy rucksacks behind us.
Now I realize the contents of our rucksacks vary-might contain worry or guilt, past pain or bitterness--unrealized dreams? A broken heart, or something else?
Friend, I'm wondering what your life would be like if you weren't dragging around that rucksack, if you surrendered to God.
I've got an idea. Let's pull the crud out of our rucksacks, and expose it to the light; let's name it. Then, let's give it to God to sort out for us ... invite him to come 'make us new', and to heal us. Give God permission to be who he wants to be in our lives. I'm not fully sure of the reason, but a part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain. Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel shamed, confused, and lost. Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone,1 or a chance to restore us.
You might consider searching the Scriptures to get God's mind on what is dragging you down; after all, God's Word speaks to everything that concerns his children.
Worry? "Do not worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything, and the God of peace will guard your hearts and mind, and keep them quiet and at rest in Christ Jesus."2
Do you carry guilt in your rucksack? Stop. Look what John wrote, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."3 So, do it: confess and let go.
Unrealized dreams? "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."4
Feeling far from God? "Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.5
Broken hearted? "The Lord is near the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."6 Crippled by pain from your past/childhood? Jesus came to bring freedom to captives like me, like you.7
So let's unpack our rucksacks . . . get rid of our burdens. Surrender. Then, we can truly live our lives unfettered, just as God meant us to be and do.
1 Henri Nouwen, "Gracias", 1983
2 Philippians 4.6-7, New Living Translation
3 1 John 1.9
4 Psalm 37.4
5 Jeremiah 29.12-13
6 Psalm 34.18
7 Luke 4.18