This past week I spent time in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Now, in Texas the weather is still sweat-inducing, but it’s nothing like that in Colorado right now! My husband and I drove on up to the mountain for the first day of hiking ready to go…camera in hand and jackets zipped up tight. It was certainly chilly (27 degrees at the bottom!) and only colder as we hiked up. We hiked about 4 hours that first day, and stumbled, exhausted into our cabin at the end of it all. I remember thinking about how cold it had been up there at the top, above the tree line. We guessed it had been about 15 degrees with a wind chill even lower than that, not to mention the 45 mph winds whipping at us! We were only protected from the tough elements because we dressed in plenty of warm layers.
This makes me think of the things we use to “protect ourselves” against this world. God recognizes that we will be burdened and try to do this on our own, so he says, “take my yolk upon you and … you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:29-30). He goes on to encourage us in Hebrews, “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”(Heb 12:1)
I want to draw a picture of what that might look like for me. Being surrounded by people of great faith and an awesome Creator, who loves and cherishes me, let me throw off the things that weigh me down. I start by pulling off the façade of perfection I’ve so painstakingly put on the outside…so imperfect when compared to the real perfection of our Lord. Under that I’ve still got layers of weight pulling at me yet. Coming off next, like gloves, are my insecurities about my body and fears of rejection. Pride for anything I think I ever did on my own – it’s not real, and I can toss it off with His help. There’s also the jealousy I’ve carried of things that don’t provide anything real, fleeting pleasures and vain ambitions. Unforgiveness is next; it’s like a hard shell I’ve built up to protect against hurts and pain from people I’ve been vulnerable with.
So many burdens and stumbling blocks to sin that I can look back and see in a pile on the ground as I finally have the energy to run my race with my wonderful Savior. Can you imagine how freeing it can be to give it all to the Lord? To be made free in Him. That’s a beautiful picture.
I could stop there, it could be that easy. But there’s that word “perseverance,” and in the KJV, the word is “patient”. God asks us not to do this just today, no, it’s an everyday exchange. Wow, now this gets a little more intense. Paul tells us in Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As an added assurance, God lets us know in Hebrews 4 that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence…” Amen, I think I will! Truly, this is a daily battle and decision for me, but ultimately he is growing and shaping us to be men and women after His own heart.
Precious Jesus, you promise us so many wonderful things and ask only one thing of us…to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I pray that today you be made real in my life by taking on these burdens I carry. I acknowledge that you died on the cross to take my pain and my burdens and be a sin offering. You are so beautiful, and I am so blessed to be made beautiful and whole in you alone. Amen.