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Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

 

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

Back in younger, foolish days (not “younger” enough), a clergy friend invited me not only to speak at a youth camp—but to ride bicycles with him and some high school guys nearly 400 miles from their church in Sioux Falls across South Dakota to the camp near Mt. Rushmore. Human confidence and ego being immeasurable, I said “sure” even though I owned no bike and had not ridden one in years. So, my sons and I bought bikes with lots of gears, low weight alloy metal, and all the trimmings: water bottle, air pump, handlebar bag, etc. Since I feared the potential of boredom while riding and resting, I packed a few paperbacks, portable radio/tape player, some music tapes and other trinkets to pass the time. We assembled at the church in Sioux Falls ready to head against the wind and uphill for five days, accompanied by a van with nutritious meals of hot dogs.

It was only a few hours till the pain set in. South Dakota was not flat after all, the prevailing winds contrary, and even yuppie, thin-tired alloy bikes required work—an old, but forgotten principle of Newton, I believe.

So it was that barely a day into the trip, insight—awakened by pain—signaled that drastic action was required. Away with the trinkets and accessories; throw off the books and radio; trash the tapes; forget the handlebar bag. All unnecessary weight was stripped in the quest for efficiency and success. Four hundred miles was a long way to tote luxuries.

That experience game me a new sense of the power from the writer of Hebrews’ admonition to “lay aside every weight.” I now “got it.”

The Hebrews passage drawn from an athletic image is not subtle. To be sure we are, if we are to run the race, to lay aside every sin. That goes without saying. Sin beats us down, demoralizes us, shrinks us, and robs us of joy, peace and effectiveness. Sin cripples and hobbles us. Repentance—casting off sin—is essential to “run the race.” But the writer goes beyond that and suggests that the call of the gospel, for those who would race and look to Jesus, is not just to throw off evil—but also the “weights” that hinder us.

The “weights” I believe are all those things, not evil in themselves, not even necessarily bad, that clutter our lives, and keep us from spiritual “leanness” and focus. While sin is an ever present problem, perhaps more serious is the lack of focus and priority in our lives.

For some of us, at times our lives may be too empty, but for modern man the opposite is more likely. Our lives are full of many things. It has been said the enemy of the best is not the worst but the second best. Our lives are so full that nothing else can intrude. There is no room for an infusion of spiritual energy, Godly passions, and new ministries. We are simply bogged down, carrying too much freight.

As we enter the twenty-first century most of us have a full plate. We are a busy people whose appointment calendars are filled in—mostly with good things. Our cell phones assure we are never alone. Our balance sheets and VISA cards keep hounding us for productivity. We are busy doing justice, defending, drafting, filing, studying, consulting, etc. These are not bad things, but like busy Martha, maybe we must be told, “one thing is needful.” Martha had let good things drive out the best—the “needful” Jesus had.

I think of that trash can beside the road not too many miles from Sioux Falls where I threw some of that stuff. That trash can was just as important as the peddling. What I threw away was just as important as what I had to take.

As the new millennium challenges us, it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to clear out the clutter of our lives—the cherished trinkets, habits, agendas—and throw them away. So that next time we sing “Fill my cup Lord,” there’ll be some room there.

Lynn R. Buzzard

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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