Saturday, January 1, 2011

The backpack

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
I belong to an online prayer group comprised of women in the speaking and writing ministry. After I submitted a prayer request for our monthly day of prayer last month, I received a phone call from one of the members.
“Michele, I want to pray with you,” she said.
I was surprised and humbled. I didn’t think my request warranted a long distance call from a busy woman who I was sure had better things to do. But what could I say?
Afterward, she told me that while we prayed, she had a vision of a backpack that I’d been carrying for a long time. In her vision, Jesus took the backpack from me and put it on Himself. Then He carried it with Him to Calvary, then to the grave. He still had it when He emerged from the tomb, alive on Easter morning, when He opened it. 
“Out came all sorts of beautiful things—butterflies, a loaf of bread,” she said. “I don’t know if that means anything to you.”
It wasn’t until later that I understood.
You see, I do carry a backpack—not a physical backpack but a spiritual one. Every time I feel a sliver of envy, a spark of anger or a flicker of discouragement, and deny it, I add another stone to my backpack. Because the stones are so small—and because I don’t dwell on these negative things—they seem too insignificant to confess to God. But after awhile the stones begin to add up and take up space. Eventually the backpack becomes cumbersome and slows me down. But when I confess the stones of envy, anger and lack of faith, I give them to Jesus, who is waiting to take my load from me.
How heavy a backpack I’d been lugging around! It was time to face my failings and relinquish the load.
A few days later I emailed my friend: “How can I thank you enough for obeying the nudging of the Holy Spirit and phoning me to pray the other day? I realized after I spoke and prayed with you that I put on such a good face that I don’t realize there are hidden hurts buried deep inside. Unanswered prayers. Disappointments. Discouragement. Instead of taking them to God at the first sign, I shove them into the backpack because at that point they are so small, so light, I don’t think they’re important enough to take to God. And envy. Oh, my. A lot of ugly stuff in that backpack. What a beautiful vision of what Jesus does—takes that backpack crammed with all the ugly stuff that, put all together, is far heavier than I’d realized, and transforms it into something beautiful.”
What’s in your backpack? Why not give it to Jesus and start the New Year off unencumbered by the past? Only He can turn your stones into bread.
Dear God, help me to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily weighs me down, and run with perseverance the race that You have marked out for me” (adapted from Hebrews 12:1). Amen.  
     Special-Tea: Matthew 11:28-30


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