Yesterday I came across Hebrews 12:1-2 again, and I got to thinking about what it means to lay aside weight. I then thought of backpacking. It’s not the same object lesson as the race being run in Hebrews (for a bit on that see Running the Race), but I did get to thinking about what backpackers do to make their trek easier.
Disclaimer: I’ve never been backpacking, but out of curiosity at one point, I read and watched enough to know a couple things: Don’t take anything you do not absolutely need, and strip down as much weight as possible on what you do need to carry. The following is a pretty simplistic way of looking at things.
When people go backpacking they have to carry everything they need. I’m not just talking about a day trip either. Some people go backpacking for several days at a time – at least! All the stuff can get pretty heavy, so people who have a lot of experience pack lighter alternatives, pack less, or just learn to do without certain things. When cutting down on weight, backpackers go so far as to cut tags off things, remove all unnecessary packaging, and consolidate all they can. Floss? Take it out of the container and take only as much as you’ll use. Toothpaste? Pack the smallest tube you can find. Toothbrush? Pack the smallest one you can use or cut off part of the handle. Food? Take it out of all unnecessary packaging and put it all in one where possible. Clothes? Just take the ones on your back, maybe one extra change just in case. Blankets and tent or hammock? Cut off all tags and make sure you have the lightest possible while still accounting for the weather. Toilet paper? Take the cardboard out of the middle. Cooking utensils, tools, and miscellaneous gear? Take the bare minimum made of the lightest material while still being sturdy. Water? When possible, take a small filter with you so you can collect water as you go instead of carrying it all.
Some of the weight stripping might seem extreme, but the little things really do add up, especially on long trips. Sometimes I think we could stand this kind of weight cutting in our own lives as Christians. We feel like we have to have certain things in our lives when we can and sometimes should do without. Some of us could stand dropping a habit or an attitude. Some of us have a bunch of little things in our lives that need to be reduced or cut out entirely. Sometimes a tag in our thinking needs to be trimmed. Like weather and terrain when backpacking, sometimes your specific life situation will determine what needs to be carried this time and what needs to be left. Whatever it is, let God show you that you don’t always need everything you carry, and you can live lighter.