Light on a Heavy BackpackMarch 7, 2017
Is the life of a good and faithful servant of Christ more like “walking in a parade” or like enduring “a forced march with a heavy knapsack”? That was the question in the previous post. My answer? It’s like both, when considered from two points of view.
Considering your life in its entirety, from the “day you stepped off the curb and joined the parade” to the day you will cross the Finish Line, as a person of Christ, you are sharing his “triumph,” and “spreading the fragrance of Christ everywhere” [2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV]. So a Christian's life is like a parade. But considered moment-by-moment, one step at a time, and one challenging burden following another (as burdens tend to) our experience as Christians more often resembles a challenging “forced march”—-or a canoe trip, with burdensome “knapsacks” needing to be carried on portages of various lengths and degrees of difficulty.
On many of the canoe trips I have enjoyed (and endured) over the years, I have had the pleasure of one of my three children paddling in the bow. Prior to every one of those trips, I have assumed a major role in ensuring that the packs we will be lugging through the woods contain everything we need. Here, I should confess that, on a number of occasions, I have not been as “inclusive” as I have always intended to be, for example, in regard to certain meal ingredients. As I recall, Joanna has experienced more of those disappointments than her siblings. I distinctly remember discovering (on trips with Joanna particularly) that I failed to pack the margarine required to fry the pancakes, the parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the spaghetti, and the marshmallows to roast on the campfire. Poor Joanna. A victim of my haste and carelessness.
Rats! If only I had been altogether blameless and without faults in those days, I could have said to each of my fellow-portagers, “When our backs and our shoulders get painfully uncomfortable, let’s remember that we are carrying everything we need for this whole trip.” It would have been a fine thing for a Dad to say!
In contrast, if we consider the burdens we personally bear throughout the course of our lives as heavy packs we must portage—especially, those that we are bearing presently (whether health problems, financial needs, relational challenges or other weighty loads), we can picture God as our perfectly compassionate Father, “a very present help in trouble” [Psalm 103:13; 46:1 ESV]. He knows perfectly well every detail of “the canoe route” we are taking: every lake, every set of rapids, every campsite, every portage. And he has done all of the packing himself. So each of us CAN say, “My backpack is as heavy as it is (and no heavier), because every single thing the pack contains is something I will at some time be glad I have carried”
For this reason, James, "a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ," says at the beginning of his New Testament letter, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials [or, tests or temptations or troubles] of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [or, patience or perseverance or endurance.] And let steadfastness [or, patience or perseverance or endurance] have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Blessed is the canoe-tripper who arrives at his first campsite and discovers that he didn't forget a thing.
I do welcome your comments, questions and feedback.