“let us throw off everything that hinders. . . ” Hebrew 12:1a (NIV)
My favorite Swiss Army backpack had seen better days. The zippers no longer remained zipped and I became fearful that as I walked I would start to leave a trail of debris behind me like some modern day Hansel and Gretel. Taking the suggestion of a colleague, I opted to order the free backpack available through my employer. After all, I was lugging around a company furnished laptop in my old backpack anyway.
To say my new backpack was less spacious and luxurious than my old one was an understatement. I quickly realized that in order to use my new backpack, I was going to have to jettison some of the non- essential items I had been carrying around in my old backpack. As I went through my old backpack I realized I was carrying around a bunch of extra “crap.” Crap is not the word of choice to describe something that is valuable or necessary. The extra stuff in my backpack did not start out as crap. It was useful once. However like bread at a thrift store bakery, that had started out fresh but had gone beyond its useful shelf life, it was time to throw it out it. Although I do not care for my new backpack as much as I do my old one, it is certainly much lighter and easier to maneuver as I observed on a recent out of town business trip.
Ironically, that out of town business trip was to attend an executive mastery session hosted by consulting firm, Gap International. During the session, the Gap consultants walked us participants through completing the year. We reviewed our successes and accomplishments as well as our disappointment and regrets. We discussed what we would need to do “get complete” for the year. This might entail acknowledging the work of our staff, or having a difficult conversation with someone that we’d been putting off. The idea was to “close the books” on the year, so that one could enter the new year with a fresh start.
After the session, I came to see that cleaning out the extra crap in my old backpack was a metaphor for other areas of my life. Was there stuff I was carrying around that had outlived its purpose and was no longer useful? Was there bitterness I had failed to release? Were there grudges I was harboring? Was I carrying around regrets over failures in the past that were thwarting my current progress? I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” A yoke is a device for joining a pair of oxen together. It is meant to redistribute the load the oxen are carrying, making it easier to carry the burden. When we “team up” with Jesus, he makes our load lighter.
While you’re making year-end preparations, why not “close the books” with Jesus? Dump all of the hurt, pain bitterness and disappointment from your backpack into his. Like releasing the ballast from a submarine, or sandbags from a hot-air balloon, you will be able to ascend to higher heights. “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” – Habakkuk 3:19a. I can’t think of a better way to close out 2012 and begin 2013.