St. Cuthbert’s Way III – Previously I have talked about the hike that I took last summer through the Border regions of England and Scotland on St. Cuthbert’s Way. I have talked about the inspiration behind its namesake and about the thrill and adventure of being in the wild with God as my only companion. I was rereading through the journal entries that I made during those four days and I was reminded of another thought that the Lord laid out there for me. When I was preparing to go on this excursion I was packing my bags at my pastor’s flat in downtown London. He had been gracious enough to allow me to stay with him while his family was on holiday. As I finished packing my bag he watched as I swung it up onto my back. He then watched as I tried to hide the shock at how much the bag weighed and how much effort it took me to get it situated. I had pack anything that I thought I might need and since I had never done anything of this nature before, I figure I’d need a lot. I made sure that I got everything I needed into the bag and when completely packed it weighed about fifty pounds. Andrew, my pastor, asked me if there was anything that I thought I might not need that I could shed so that I wasn’t so weighed down. I said that there probably was but that I would just tough it out and see how things went. Step number three of the hike I was already thinking about what I should have shed. I meet a handful of other hikers at pubs or restaurants in the villages that I hike through and when I asked them how far they were hiking and looked at the size of their bags I felt like a complete novice and idiot. People that we hiking twice as far as I was had bags half the size of mine. When they picked their bag up, they did not have to get a running hop skip and a jump to hoist their bag onto their back. So over the four days and sixty-two miles I was reminded every step of the way of what the author of Hebrews said to the recipients of the letter;
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In my life I have several people that I trust and have given permission to point out things that I am carrying with me that are slowing me down, the things that are a hindrance to my walk with Christ. Some of these people are people that are walking the same path as me at the same time and others have walked this path many years before and are looking back and giving me pointers. When I look around myself and see the different ways in which we all carry our load it reminds me that the Lord is original with us all, but that there are certain things that are necessary for the road ahead. Learning from others about how to journey long and pack light is why we are not on a road of solitary confinement. We need each other for encouragement, for advice, and to ask the tough questions. Next time I go on a four day hike, I am going to empower someone else to ask me the tough questions and find what I am carrying that is not essential. Next time I think I am independent on this journey to God I am going to be reminded by my good friends that I need them and that I am not alone.