About a year ago I wrote about decluttering my life of old stuff, dreams and ambitions. This task has become an iterative one — after clearing out one layer of clutter I find more underneath that has yet to be dealt with. It also takes time to examine my desires, motivations, dreams, anxieties, worries, priorities, fears, and insecurities and see them for what they are — excess baggage.
So many people I have met over the years walk around carrying a heap of emotional hang-ups that weigh them down. (Bear Grylls, A Survival Guide for Life)
I’m no Bear Grylls, but I have spent enough time carrying a heavy pack through New Zealand’s wilderness to know the folly of carrying stuff that is not essential. I’ve also occasionally forgotten to take something necessary and seriously regretted my lack of warm/dry clothes!
Jesus also encourages us to travel light, while acknowledging that many of us are in fact loaded down with cares, fears, anxiety and worries:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33 ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30 ESV)
Obviously he is not talking about carrying a heavy backpack. Jesus promises rest for our souls rather than rest for our shoulders. And realistically it is our souls, our hearts, our minds that become burdened by the cares and worries of life. This soul burden becomes heavier as we move through adulthood and take on the responsibilities of spouse, children and jobs.