What's In Your Backpack?

As I've told you before, I'm a planner.  I plan my days.  I plan my meals.  I plan my outfits.  I plan my errands.  I plan my plans.  Without a plan, I feel lost, confused and irritable.  With a plan, I feel in control and ready for whatever may come my way.  As a hiker, however, this planning thing can be a bit of a hindrance.  Allow me to lay out my typical thought process when packing my backpack for an upcoming hike.

Okay, let's fill my water bladder to the brim.  I don't want to run out of water, and just in case we end up going farther than we planned, I'll throw in a couple of extra bottles of water.  We need to stay hydrated.  And of course, we'll need some snacks.  I'll throw in a few protein bars for us and some dog treats for the pups.  Yes, that should be sufficient.  It's awfully sunny out, so I'd better grab some sunscreen. After all, I'm very fair-skinned.  But, you know, we've been having those scattered showers lately so I'd better grab my poncho, a couple of towels and probably even a change of clothes.  I hate riding home in wet clothes.  Since it is so sunny now, though, I'd better pack my sunglasses.  Still, if we're out too late, it might start getting dark, so I'd better throw in a couple of flashlights.  Let's see, insect repellant, dog leashes, first aid kit with extra bandages in case someone gets a bad injury, cell phone, pain relievers, chapstick, a blanket in case the temperature drops, a hat for me, orange bandannas for the dogs.  Hmm.  I think that's it.  Now, how am I ever going to get all of this stuff in my pack, and beyond that, how am I going to carry it?

It's one thing to be prepared; it's quite another to be loaded down with burdens to the point that we're unlikely to finish the journey.  Yet that is how many of us live our lives.  We're running the race of life with bowling balls tied to our ankles.  It's no wonder we keep falling.  It's unsurprising that we grow weary after just a few steps in the right direction.  We have so many cares weighing us down, it takes all of our strength just to stand.  Running is unthinkable.

Long ago, I recognized this in my own life and made a commitment to start leaving my burdens at the feet of Christ.  It has not been easy, and many times I've been unsuccessful, but this morning I read something that explained why I still feel so burdened down in this life.  In his book, Fully Alive, Ken Davis explains that burdens are not always bad things; sometimes the things that are holding us back are good things that we need to let go of.  Worry, guilt, fear -- these are all bad things that hold us back from our full potential, but there are good things that do the same.  For example, I desire to live a healthier life.  I desire to grow closer to God.  I desire to strengthen my marriage.  I desire to become a stronger and more confident writer.  I desire to have and maintain a clean house.  I desire to be there for people when they need me.  These are all good things, but in order to fulfill all of those desires, I've got myself running in so many directions that I can't even see straight.  I can't do it all.  I can't have it all.  And I certainly can't achieve everything at once.  But that hasn't kept me from trying.  The result?  I've made myself miserable.  In my attempt to do everything, I feel I haven't done anything well.  I feel like a failure, and in truth, I set myself up to fail.  In essence, I tied all those expectations (and many more) to my ankles and said, "Now, run!"  Duh!  I didn't stand a chance.

My friends, it's time to clean out our backpacks.  It's time to sift through the baggage and determine what we need to keep and what we need to throw away.  Obviously, the bad things like worry, guilt, fear and pride need to be tossed.  But what about the good things?  How do we know what to keep and what to get rid of?  I asked that same question this morning, and immediately this verse came to mind:  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33)

If we'll put God first and seek His will for our lives, everything else will fall into place.  We will accomplish more and find more joy and peace if we'll just concentrate on one thing and one thing alone--delighting in the Lord.  Putting His will before our own.  Allowing Him to live and work through us.  Doing only those things that will bring glory to His name.  Delighting in the Lord is not an action; it's a state of mind.  It's pushing everything else aside and saying, "Thy will be done, Lord."  It's letting go of our cares and burdens.  It's the recipe for a full, abundant life!