Weary. Bone crushingly weary. Exhausted. I shuffled one aching foot in front of the other. Slowly. So slowly. The weight upon my back growing heavier with every step. My ankle turned upon a rock as I took my next step and crying out in pain I tumbled, in a pitiful heap, to the ground. My chest began to heave as sobs racked my body, tears dripping off the end of my nose onto the stony ground beneath me.
I looked upwards and studied the mountain in front of me. My destination. The very top of the mountain. Maybe then I would be able to put down the heavy bags on my shoulders and rest. Or so I had heard. Countless stories about the top of the mountain. How I could kick off the weight of my burden and finally be free! Another sob shuddered through me and I felt hope draining away. There were so many stories and quick fixes that I had tried, all with that money back guarantee of lifting your burdens, total happiness and all that! Nothing worked. Nothing changed. It seemed as if this burden grew heavier as each day passed. I looked again at the top of the mountain, at the precipices and boulders that I would have to navigate and sighed deeply. It was too heavy, my body ached with so much pain. I could never, ever make it to the top. Looking down the steep path I had already climbed I wasn’t sure I could go back down either. I was at the end of my rope! Out of options! In a jam and at my wit’s end! I closed my eyes and tried to think of what to do next.
Clattering. Rattling. The sound of rocks striking together. I opened my eyes and there below me was a man moving rapidly up the hill. There was no weight upon his back. No burden slowing him down! As he reached me he moved to go around me, but I put out my hand, “Wait,” I said, “Please wait! Where is your burden? The weight of your sin, your anxieties, depression and diseases? Your worries, pain and heartbreak?” “Gone!” he exclaimed, “I traded them!” “You what? You traded them?” I questioned, unbelief wrinkling my forehead. “Yes, traded! I traded my sin for salvation, my bondage for redemption, my captivity for freedom, my worries for peace and my anxiety for serenity! That’s not all,” he said, “I traded my doubt for faith, my troubles for comfort and my sickness for health! Why, He even gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair!” (Isaiah 61:3)
My shoulders slumped even more and I just wished the ground would swallow me up. What a fool I had been. Chasing after the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Chasing after myths, legends and silly stories, spending my money on slippery lies, believing every tall tale. I looked at the man and said, “It must of cost you everything, and I have squandered all that I have on fibs and falsehoods.” Bending down the man looked right into my tear stained eyes. “No,” he said, “It was free! Just ask Jesus. He paid the price for you already and He will take your burden too!”
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. “Jesus,” I whispered quietly. “Jesus.” It was little more than a sigh, a gentle murmur on a summer’s breeze. But the response was phenomenal! Every burden on my back crashed to the ground, baggage scattering over the side of the mountain. Flames ignited every sin, every weight and every sickness. A consuming fire! I pushed myself backwards as the heat became so intense. Smoke curling upwards. But what was that smell? A riot of roses, cinnamon, sandalwood and spices. Incense. The offering of my sin rising like a sweet smelling fragrance. “Jesus,” I whispered again and smiled to myself.
Picking myself up, I stood to my feet. Weightless. Light. Even buoyant! Joy began to well up within me as for the first time I felt freedom. Free from the weight of sin that had dragged me down! Emotions rushed over me. Peace. Elation. Contentment. Thankfulness. I watched as the clouds bathed the mountain in their magic, flowers peaked behind the rocks and the sound of a thousand birds raised their voices in a joyful chorus. Saved! Redeemed! Delivered! Rescued! Liberated! Released! It all washed over me like a refreshing water from an ice cold mountain spring. I looked at the top of the mountain and knew that I too could race to the top, unencumbered, free! Why, I could do anything now, for all things are possible to those who just believe! (Mk 9:23)