This is a rucksack - do you have one?
Sometimes my writing is shaped by a response received from one of you, sometimes by conversations I have on an airplane or in the gym. This is a response to a text message I received following the last Morning Briefing: Good Morning! Loved your morning briefing !! Holding on to so many things you mentioned preventing me from getting more of Jesus!! Any practical solutions to letting those things go besides laying them at his feet in prayer??
I love questions like this. And yes, I believe I have a practical solution that has helped me handle thoughts and situations that I drug around with me that have had a veritable strangle hold on me at points.
Time to interview yourself:
Have you 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 . . . or add to the list--
but you just couldn't break through?
Maybe there is a reason.
Segue . . . quite a few 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. (At the time, I did not just have a six pack, I had an eight-pack!) One of my regulars was a professional workout dude--an army vet who lived off his pension and worked out all day. At 39 years of age, 6 ft., 6 in. Tom was quite a physical specimen: 202 pounds and just two percent body fat...yes, 2 %. One routine he had was to run down the beach in Alameda facing the city of San Francisco, dragging a 75-pound rucksack on ropes from his shoulders. His goal was to strengthen his body, work his core, quadriceps and so on. What an image! It was hard work and a lot of strain to run fast with that dragging through the sand behind him, but that was the idea Tom had in mind.
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, unforgiveness or bitterness . . . could be 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 it 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. And in so doing, give God permission to be who he wants to be in our lives. I'm not sure the reason--(maybe some presumption of control?), but a part of us clings to our brokenness not allowing God to touch us where we are in pain the most. 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 give him a chance to restore us.
My strategy for emptying the rucksack: Get God's mind on what is dragging you down; after all, Scripture speaks to everything that concerns us.
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 or resulting shame 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 Be still and ask him to make his presence known to you.
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, and reach for more of what he has to give us.
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