The Lesson of the Backpack

While in college, I majored in English. Obviously, every college course requires loads of reading. English was no exception. One semester, I found myself taking an American Lit. Courses, a Shakespeare Course, a women’s studies course, and 2 history courses. Of course, each teacher required the text to be brought to class daily. In addition to the classes I took at the University, I was enrolled in institute. I had 4 huge books on any given day, plus my lunch, and my scriptures. I also had no transportation other than my feet, so I was usually walking a few miles with these books. My little North-Face backpack wasn’t doing the trick.

About a week into school, I decided I needed to get a new backpack – one that would hold all of my books and would also take the strain off of my back. I went to a local camping store, and I bought a soft-frame pack equipped with 4 inch-padded shoulder straps, a strap that buckled across my chest, and a thicker strapped that buckled at my waist. It was exactly what I needed. I felt like a total nerd, but it saved my back.

Around the same time, I was taking institute and trying to read the New Testament. I came across the scripture,

“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

When I read the phrase, “heavy laden” I chuckled because I knew what that was like—it was like my backpack! Or, more precisely, it was like the books I had to carry to class each day.

I realized, in a simple, but effective, way that the gospel of Jesus Christ is like my good backpack. Our books are our trials and afflictions. They are necessary. If we want to succeed, we have to bring the books to class. But they are heavy and cumbersome. If we try to carry the books without a back-pack, we would face many challenges. We would get tired quickly, and, chances are, the books would fall all over the place. We may make it to class while holding this load, but it will be difficult, slow, and really inefficient. It would be especially hard to make the trip day after day.

In our lives, we are heavy laden – with trials and afflictions. We can choose to face these without any assistance. This would cause exhaustion, stress, and it would probably also make a person susceptible to illness. Or we could find that facing our trials without any assistance is actually impossible. We may be able to make it through one or two trials dependent on our own strength, but it would be hard to get along, day after day, relying on nothing but ourselves.

Now, we have a tool that will help in carrying our books – a BACKPACK! The backpack is the gospel of Christ, especially His atoning sacrifice. When we carefully load our books, and place the pack on our backs, we can carry the load effectively. Sure, the backpack is still heavy. It can still be a little tiring, but we can be successful in taking on this necessary load. We will have more energy and ability to accomplish all that we must do. Even though we are burdened with the books, we still have our hands and other faculties available to us. Our situation is improved exponentially just by choosing to use a backpack.

Just as we have backpacks to help with our loads, when we come to the Lord with our afflictions, turmoil, and difficulties, He will help with our spiritual “loads”. He will teach us how to distribute the weight of our affliction. He will take on the difficulty of containing these trials, as we simply move forward carrying them. He will make this life, which is absolutely riddled with adversity, navigable and rewarding. We will see that through His help, we will make it to our destination not only stronger, but with strength to spare.

I know it’s kind of a silly analogy, but thinking of a backpack has actually helped me to understand a small way of how the Lord supports us as we come to Him. We simply have to make the choice to put His yoke upon us. We aren’t expected to do everything alone. The Lord has designed a way for us to deal with our trials, but we must come unto Him to receive such support.

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