Camping is something I truly enjoy. Unfortunately, it is not something I often have opportunity to do right now, but I do hope as life settles a little that will change.
My favorite camping trip was with a group of friends in Virginia. We all loaded up our backpacks with as much as we could carry and hiked out into the woods until we found a clearing big enough to set up our tents. I think we ended up hiking in about four hours. We were all exhausted, hungry, and ready to stop. Setting up camp, building a fire, and making food was a breeze, but after we ate – while we were sitting chatting, one of our hikers took her brand new hiking boots off, and upon freeing her feet was overcome with pain from the hike. She sat and cried for about twenty minutes. We were all concerned about the next day and a half and how or if she would be able to handle the rest of the hike, but she was determined that she would be fine.
The next morning, we got up, packed our camp and began the next leg of our adventure. Julia claimed she was okay, but we all felt certain she was hurting. Jason jumped in and took her backpack in order to lighten the load on her feet, this helped some, however; the more we walked the more withdrawn she became. At some point our leader altered our route and began heading back out of the woods but after a few hours it was clear Julia was not going to make it on her own. We took turns walking beside her and allowing her to lean her weight on us as we struggled to continue to our destination. Julia tried to be strong but in the end we divided Jason’s gear between the rest of us and he hoisted our friend up onto his back and carried her the rest of the way to the exit.
As I have grown and matured in my relationship with the Lord I realize more and more that this is how the Christian walk works too. At times we find ourselves, or others, weighed down by problems that are too difficult, or pain that is too overwhelming, and we stumble under the weight of the burden. It can be difficult to get through even one day, and we can become so depressed and exhausted that finding the energy to survive is hard enough, let alone trying to be a support to others.
Paul encourages Christians to be ready to help carry the load of others. He reminds us in Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Julia needed the support of her friends in order to overcome the pain and injury caused by her choice to wear new unbroken boots on a two day hike. Rather than beat her down for her choice, we came together to carry her. This is what Paul’s message encourages, yet how often do we look at the hardship of others – that may be a consequence of poor choices – and not see that they need help to carry the burden? When things are going smoothly for us, we may have trouble empathizing with others who are carrying a heavy load, we must be intentional with our desire to help without expectation, and without a need for recognition.
Today’s thought: What are some practical ways you can help someone with a burden they are carrying now?