Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
What burdens are you carrying?
When have you experienced a lightened load, at least a little bit?
What often trips you up?
Ecclesiastes 3 includes a “season for throwing stones,” and that seems odd to me. The first thing I think of is Jesus’ challenge for people who have not sinned to throw the first stones at the judged woman, but I know that can’t be what is referenced in Ecclesiastes, since it’s in direct contradiction. I did a little digging, and to be honest, not all commentators know what to do with this either, but there often a suggested tie to clearing the path, making it less likely to stumble. And it’s not just about clearing a path for ourselves. We need to clear the path for those behind us, just as those ahead of us have done. We appreciate the examples others have set for us and the ways they have prepared the path for us. Seeing someone else’s steps encourages us, especially when we are tired and hurt by falling over a half-hidden rock. Or sometimes we’ve decided to travel the path carrying some of the rocks of our past. We worked hard through an experience, and isn’t of setting it aside, we carry it with us. But God knows what we’ll need for each step of the journey. He knows what we need to set aside and how we can carry what we do need with us without being too burdened.
I read a card the other day that said, “When people say, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ I don’t think they get how much you hate running.” The basic concept rings true. God wants us to run the race set before us with endurance. We think of a race and imagine we have to run at full speed, like a hamster on its wheel, but that’s not the picture He gives us. Yet even if He tells us we can pace ourselves, we just don’t like to keep going sometimes! We get tired. We trip. We’re not sure we want to get up. We’d rather give up. After all, who will actually notice? God will. So will the people behind us, who whether they personally know us or not, are relying on us to throw aside some rocks for them. Maybe we got hurt when we tripped and fell, but if we toss aside the rock we annoyingly found, the next person has one less obstacle. Yes, he or she will have other obstacles we didn’t toss aside, but we all have to learn our own lessons in endurance.
Place several small stones or rocks in your purse or bag for the day. Carry them everywhere with you. Extend it to a week if you want a bigger challenge. The extra weight might not seem like much at first, but as you notice it, consider the weight you might be carrying by refusing to set aside some of the burdens of your life.