My first backpacking trip was a real learning experience. My friend Dave and I backpacked forty miles in four days with forty pound backpacks (we actually carried about forty-five pounds including water and other gear). I found that carrying that much weight added a whole new set of dynamics to hiking. First, it altered your body position. Normally, I stand fairly straight. If I tried that with my pack on, I would fall over backwards, so I had to lean slightly forward when standing or hiking to balance my pack. This made sight seeing and even following the trail difficult, as leaning forward naturally made me look down.
Second, I found that every slight twist or turn I made was multiplied exponentially because of the weight on my back. When I grabbed a tree to swing myself around, my pack just wanted to keep on going after I stopped. This was especially problematic when crossing water or swamps on narrow planks, and when trying to go around obstacles like fallen trees or broken limbs. The inertia of the pack created by even the slightest turn threatened to throw me off the bridges and into the water on more than one occasion.
Third, a stream that I normally could easily jump across became a difficult obstacle to overcome with an extra forty-five pounds of weight on my back.
Fourth, ducking to go under fallen trees or limbs was very difficult. You can imagine it would be like doing deep knee bends with forty-five pounds of weight on your back.
Even sitting down for a brief rest was a challenge while wearing a backpack. If you could find a fallen tree that was about chair height, it wasn’t too bad. But I found out from experience that sitting directly on the ground while wearing my pack made getting up a real chore.
The first day when we arrived at our campsite and removed our packs, I was amazed at how light I felt. I felt like I could leap across the widest stream. I even imagined if I were back at home, I could jump up and dunk a basketball. It was an amazing sensation to be free of the burden of that pack!
Sin can have an effect like that on the spiritual lives of people. Those who do not know Christ, are going through life carrying a burden of sin on their backs that makes everything in life that much more difficult to do.
Ps. 38:1-10 says,
“1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.”
The most devastating thing about a life on earth without Christ is spending a Christless eternity. However, it is also devastating to live life on earth carrying around a burden of sin. We have the great privilege of being ambassadors of Christ and helping people get rid of their burdens. That won’t mean they will live lives of ease. But it will drastically improve their quality life on this earth and guarantee an eternity spent with Christ.