In few weeks I will be joining a group of college students on a one week backpacking trip. There are few things in life I enjoy more than hitting a trail with a pack on my back and a chance to see and experience nature up close and personal. On this particular trip, I will be leading the campfire devotionals and joining in a spiritual exploration along with the physical trek. As I envision that journey, several things course my mind. I invite you to go along with me on my pre-trek- trek…… on a trail that is more spiritual than physical.
But first a word or two about backpacking.
Long before I hit the trail, I begin thinking about what I’ll put in my pack and what will be laid aside. I’ve done this dozens of times and I’ve found I enjoy the process immensely. As each item is evaluated, folded, compressed and stuffed, I envision how this item will serve me along the way. The Bible, tent, sleeping bag and coffee cup are first in. Leatherman, compass, matches, flashlight and a some granola bars follow. A light poncho or rain gear is not far behind. If someone in my group isn’t packing one, in goes my lightweight stove.
As each piece goes into the pack, the weight increases. Eventually we go from necessities to comfort and from this point on, we must be more discriminating. Each additional item is stuffed into an ever tightening pack and each ounce added will bring additional fatigue along the trail.
I don’t suppose I ever go through this process without thinking of this as a metaphor of life’s own journey. My life, like an overstuffed pack, gets bulky and heavy at times. If you’ve ever felt that your life has gotten bogged down or you’ve experienced overload, you know what I’m talking about.
We move along well enough until one day, we notice that the head hurts, the shoulders ache and we feel exhausted. We examine our life and observe that we have ever so slowly, taken on excess baggage along the way and we are fatigued. Ounce by ounce, the payload has been added and we sag rather than sing. We grimace more than we grin and we complain more than we celebrate.
All because we have not packed well.
So go ahead. Unload. Unpack everything in your life. It’s time for an inventory. Examine your life one piece at a time. Lay it all on the table.
The questions are these:
What are the necessities?
What do I need to survive and thrive in the wilderness of everyday living?
Do I have anything in my pack that feeds the soul?
Do I have something to protect me from the hostile climate of life?
Am I carrying along a lot of guilt and regret which I could have unloaded at the foot of the cross of Christ?
Am I carrying a sinful behavior that weights me down and occupies precious space in my life?
I’ve discovered that life’s vistas can be best experienced when we are traveling light. I’ve also discovered that in most of life’s journeys, less is more. So, slim down, economize, lighten up. You’ll be surprised at how much more spiritual energy you have when you pack right and pack light.