“The lighter the pack, the more pleasant the journey.” This was a quote that I read in a book called A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt. It tells of his journey on the Appalachian Trail. This is a 2,160 mile trek from Georgia to Maine. At the end of his book, Alt shares some life lessons that he learned along the journey.
The above quote is definitely true concerning life. Our lives get overly burdened by the many unnecessary items we try to carry along the way. Jeff comments that he had to periodically assess what he was carrying in his pack and discard those items that were doing nothing but weighing him down.
Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message translation paints a similar picture:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Now that is an interesting paraphrase. We do certainly weigh ourselves down in this world. We burden ourselves needlessly with seeking worldly pleasures, fame, success, and by loosing sight of what the Christian life really is meant to be. I like where it says to walk with God and work with Him. We certainly work against Him enough! Learning the unforced rhythms of grace reminds me that our walk with God as Christians should come naturally not forced. We are the ones who try to impress God with our works and our ritual. Why does the Christian life seem so foreign to us much of the time? Maybe because we have become overly burdened and are not relying daily on Christ to sustain us for the journey.
There is a term in hiking called ‘slack packing’. This is where you venture out on the trail with just the necessities. You don’t burden yourself with all the weight of a heavy pack. You have just what you need for the immediate journey which is usually a day. You then can return, replenish supplies and rest for the next leg of the hike and then continue where you left off. Some hike the entire Appalachian Trail in this fashion. They hike in sections and replenish supplies as they go.
This reminded me of everyday life. You may remember the song One Day At a Time Sweet Jesus. It speaks of relying daily on God and taking it one day at a time. We are to return each day and replenish for the next leg of the journey. We don’t overburden ourselves. In this way, we can more enjoy the walk without the burden of unnecessary weight on our backs.
Wow! I love that image of how it should be with the Christian life. I truly believe God wants us to enjoy the journey. He doesn’t want us stressed out by the needless burdens of life. Each day has enough problems of its own. We don’t need to add to it by complicating it with worldly aspirations and by trying to do it all alone. As Scripture says:
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.- Matthew 6:30-33 The Message
God does not promise that we won’t have problems. Living out the Christian life will create its own problems. The issue is when we burden needlessly. Simply your life so that you can meet the daily needs and ministries that God has called you to. Daily assess what you are carrying and discard the non-essentials. Pray that God will reveal what needs to be let go of and pray for Him to help you do just that. Slack pack living the Christian way….one day at a time and the journey will be more fruitful. It is all about relying on Him. Cast your cares on Him…He cares for you…