Want Some Help with Your Backpack?

A day pack in the forest of Colorado
A day pack in the forest of Colorado

I’ve never been backpacking.  So when I pack up my backpack, I only have to remember everything I’ll need for the day: food, water, sunscreen, maps, so on and so forth.  But if I was to pack for an overnight trip, I’d also have to remember many more things: a sleeping bag, pillow, stove, pot, multiple meals, flashlight, the list could go on and on.

I'm just as happy not to have to carry all those sleeping bags up the trail...
I’m just as happy not to have to carry all those sleeping bags up the trail…

All that stuff makes for a very heavy backpack.  According to some studies, most backpackers try to keep their packs under 35lb. (16kg) – about the weight of carrying around a 3-year-old on their backs all day.  Of course, lighter packs are always preferred, since it means there is less muscle strain, easier movement, and faster hiking.

Hiking in the Grand Canyon above Lava Falls, Arizona
Hiking in the Grand Canyon above Lava Falls, Arizona

One of the great things about hiking with a larger group is that you can spread out some of the weight.  Everyone has to carry their own food, water, and personal items (sleeping bag, for example, if it’s an overnight trip), but there are many items that the entire group can share.  For example, I carry one jar of peanut butter and one jar of jelly for the entire group.  Another group member will carry one bottle of sunscreen; another, the GPS or maps (usually in different packs); so on and so forth.

Peanut butter and pretzel sandwich
Peanut butter and pretzel sandwich

The trouble with this method of sharing the weight is that the group has to stay together.  If I’m not with some of the other hikers, they might not get their PB&J sandwiches for lunch (not to mention that another group member carries the bread – so I’m sort of without half of the sandwich material if I’m on my own!)  It creates dependence on each other: We all need what each other is carrying in our day packs.

With sharing the weight, we can usually get away with only carrying waist packs instead of full-size day packs.  Grotto Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California
With sharing the weight, we can usually get away with only carrying waist packs instead of full-size day packs. Grotto Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  And again in the book of Psalms, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (55:22).  And perhaps the most famous, “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7 AMP).

McIntyre Bluffs, New York

All of us carry burdens and responsibilities – it’s part of life.  There’s nothing evil about carrying said responsibilities, cares, and burdens.  The problem comes when we try to carry them alone.

The Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
The Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

God offers to help you carry life’s backpack – figuratively speaking.  We can offload our cares, worries, and fears on Him.  It’s sort of like thinking that you will need to carry two weeks’ worth of food, etc., on a backpacking trip only to find out that your friend is bringing a pack animal – so you can carry the minimum about of weight on your back.

Stairway to Heaven, Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming after a rainstorm
Stairway to Heaven, Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming after a rainstorm

But just like we need to stick together when we share our food and other hiking supplies, so casting our burdens on Christ creates dependence on Him.  We need to be close to him so if we need to pick up any of those responsibilities or burdens to deal with one or another here on earth, we can access what we’ve cast off.  It’s worth it, though: We have less spiritual muscle strain, we can more closely and quickly follow Christ, and we can enjoy the adventure so much more when we aren’t weighed down by the things of this life.