I saw a man carrying a burden tonight. It was quite unusual to see someone with a heavy load on his back at this park. It is a small park with a short trail and yet the man approaching me wore a backpack that seemed quite heavy. I couldn’t figure this one out! Was he carrying water? But as he passed, I saw that it was just a backpack frame with a bag strapped into it. It looked like a bag of sand. It became obvious that he was in training for something. I told myself that he must be preparing to hike the nearby Appalachian Trail, or as my hubby calls it, the AT.
The way he walked with that heavy burden reminded me of a favorite book from my high school reading: Pilgrims’ Progress by John Bunyan. It tells the story of Christian and his walk through life. He starts with a terribly heavy burden on his back. As he approaches the cross, his burden falls from his back!
Even though I read the book in high school, the version that is dear to me is a children’s version. It is illustrated by Robert Lawson. During the years that I homeschooled our three sons, I wanted them to read, and read lots! So my friend, Penny, and I scoured used book sales. We snatched treasures from the piles and lugged home boxes and boxes of books. No matter how much I looked, I couldn’t find the Robert Lawson Pilgrim’s Progress. But Penny did and gave it to me! I love looking at those illustrations. They add so much to the story.
But back to that man with the burden. He was carrying that burden to increase his strength. I came around another bend in the trail and found him hiking up and down the incline by the road. I had to ask. He said no to the Appalachian Trail theory. I never would have guessed it. He is preparing to go mountain goat hunting in British Colombia in October. Crazy, huh? He is hoping that his training will give him the strength for the mountains he faces.
I seem to carry burdens. Not a 50 lb bag of sand on my back. But even though my burden of sin dropped from my back at the cross of Jesus, I sometimes take burdens back. Funny thing is though, they don’t make me stronger. Instead, burden piles upon burden and drags me down.
At one point in the book, Christian says, “I seek those joys that fade not, what are laid up in a place of bliss – safe there for those who go in search of them.” Burdens don’t need to drag us down. They can still be left at the feet of Jesus. He said, “Come to me , all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
How about you? Have you read Pilgrim’s Progress? What part did you like? Have you found relief from your burden?