“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV
For a few days during my usual walk with the Lord in a stunningly beautiful park that is much like a refuge, for wildlife, yes, but also for me as I had come to see it as a special place, a getaway, a little wilderness away from the crowds and cares of life, so to speak, to walk Esther the dog while praying, praising, worshiping, and listening for the voice of the Lord, I felt particularly sluggish. My arms felt strange and almost heavy, which happens periodically possibly in part due to how I sleep, and my legs weren’t going at their usual fast, joyful pace. I felt heavy-ish, though I am not thought to be heavy. I felt like I was almost trying to push through something, to get somewhere but unable to get there, like something was pushing against me, holding me back, not like it was hard to breathe, but like I could just plop down on the ground and quit. Just not like me. I was frustrated and a bit dismayed I couldn’t go at my usual fairly quick pace.
Why? Food? Nutrition? Not enough protein? Sleep? Not enough? Pushing myself too hard in my work? Again? Vitamins? Something just wasn’t right. I pushed on anyway, but didn’t enjoy my walking like I usually did. Even my praise, my worship, my prayers felt weighed down.
A few days later, I didn’t wear my usual backpack with my water, Esther’s water, her bowl, etc. She refuses to drink on walks, and I had a fanny pack with a water holder. The weight was gone from my back. The difference was astonishing. My arms felt ok. My back felt free. My body felt free. My pace was faster. I felt lighter. I could move more easily. My walk was totally different. I hadn’t realized what a burden I had carried, and how much it had weighed and slowed me, until I left it behind.
According to the verse above, Christ’s followers need to lay aside not just our sins against God, which is obvious, but also every weight. Why? So we can endure, persevere, last, make it, stay the course, in following Him all the way into eternity. It’s a hard, challenging, rugged, sometimes grueling, though exceedingly beautiful course because we need to turn away from the world and its ways and our own selfish desires and live by God’s Spirit by His Word for Christ. Obviously we need to repent continually of sin, but we also need to let go of anything that God’s Spirit shows us is weighing us down and holding us back from being wholly available and committed to Christ. We need to continually take off our backpacks of weights – and sins – to be free to pursue, love, worship, and serve the Lord. Time to take off your backpack, isn’t it? For Christ’s sake.