We had occasion to be traveling on the highways of our country a lot recently. If you spend any time at all on the roads, you will run into trucks. Well, hopefully not actually run into them, but you will come across them along the way. In fact, as we left a small town in Virginia, I counted over 60 trucks going in the opposite direction, on the other side of the interstate, in the span of about 20 minutes.
The roads in East Tennessee are hilly, curvy and picturesque. Trucks that run the route often know when the road gets tricky to negotiate and, for the most part, they handle the hills and curves well, usually sharing the road with the smaller cars and vans without difficulty or incident.
However, one thing that I noticed is that there are times when even strong, big, heavy trucks have difficulty climbing the hills, especially when the truck is heavily loaded and the weight is simply too much to travel at significant speed. When this scenario unfolds, the truck with the especially heavy load will move to the right lane, put its flashing lights on, and plod slowly up the incline, while the trucks coming upon them in traffic will line up behind them until there is an opening in which to pass the slower truck.
We were passing a truck loaded with heavy materials that required slow travel up the incline and I was reminded of how I can get bogged down in my Christian life when sin enters and I allow it to remain.
For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
Psalm 38:4 [ESV]
This huge truck that can easily travel at highway speed was limping up the mountain side, held back by the sheer weight of its load on the steep incline.
The writer of Hebrews warns us to be aware of sin that “clings” to us:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us ….
Hebrews 12:1 [ESV]
When I am loaded down with sin, or with guilt because of past sins, I can no longer climb the hills placed before me. Instead, I am grounded and unable to accomplish the work that Christ has for me. I have effectively taken myself out of the game … sidelined and unable to properly function … I am like the weighed down truck trying to race uphill.
This thought then prompted me to recall a study that the women did at church last year, specifically, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory of the Christian life. The pilgrim was originally named Graceless but he received a new name of Christian after coming to faith in Christ. He was trying to walk in the Christian Way and was having great difficulty because he was carrying a heavy backpack that was loaded with his sin and guilt. As Christian approached the cross, he received a fuller view of Christ and the work that was done on the cross for him. It was then that his heavy backpack fell off through no effort of his own; and, as it tumbled down into the tomb, Christian felt the comfort of being covered in his Savior’s care.
David describes this condition in Psalm 51:
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:9-12 [ESV]
David had sinned … he knew that and he knew that God knew that! He prayed that God would clean his heart, wipe out the sin, be present with him once more, and restore the joy that came from the salvation granted by God.
This is the joy and comfort that Christian felt when his backpack loosened and fell into the tomb at Christ’s cross.
It is the same joy that I can have when I confess my sin and leave it at the foot of the cross.
It is the same joy and comfort that you can experience when you are released from carrying around sin and guilt that has accumulated for years (dare I say decades?)!
Praise the Lord that Christ’s work on the cross enables us to shed the weight of sin and guilt so that we can climb mountains at full speed while we do the work that He has ordained for us to do. We may be called carry heavy weights for Him, but the task will be eased when we remember that our sin is gone and that Christ and His Spirit are with us.
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 11:29-30 [ESV]
We will be yoked with Christ, each mile of the road on our trip with our Savior and Lord. We will not limp along, unable to prevail in our work. His power will strengthen and enable us to do the task. Praise His holy Name.
Father, I pray that you would forgive me when I complain about the weight of the task ahead. Help me to remember that You are with me, that your Son is yoked with me and that your Spirit will give me strength to carry on even in the face of difficulties. Help me to honor and glorify You in my life, words, deed, and worship.