Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb 12:1)
I was talking with a friend at the coffee shop. During our conversation, she expressed a desire to free herself from the burden of too many possessions. She was going to start by getting rid of old school books. A few days after she mentioned this, I was with another friend who said he had been moving his college text books with him for over 25 years. He said that he thought they may come in handy for reference, but he had never used them after finishing the courses.
This got me to thinking about all of the books that I owned. My vast collection contains many wonderful books. I keep buying bookcases and unpacking more great books. So much knowledge and so many lofty and fantastic ideas are contained within those covers. There is enough information to keep my mind occupied for many lifetimes. Included in my collection, I too have college text books that I kept for references. I haven’t used them.
My friends and I thought we had good reasons for keeping all of these books. It is with the best intentions that we held on to them. It is not bad or wrong to have them. In some ways it is considered noble and honorable that we desire knowledge and continue to learn. But all of those books can be a problem. We all realized this when we had to move them. They are heavy bulky and require storage space.
Moving, unpacking, organizing, storing, and dusting the books was burdensome. It made me think about Hebrews 12:1. Let us throw off everything that hinders us (NIV), or let us lay aside every weight (ESV). Without realizing it, I was keeping stuff that hindered me. I was holding on to a weight that was slowing me down.
My friends and I realized that we were hauling the books around because we thought they may be useful, but they weren’t. They weren’t bad or evil. There was no sin in keeping them. They were just a problem because they slowed us down and kept us from going forward. They held us back financially. We could have sold some of them back to the college and improved our financial position. They took up time. They were heavy to move. They took up space.
My books sat on the shelf as a reminder of my inadequacy. Why don’t I read more? How come I can’t get to these books? It would be good for me to grow in knowledge. Why are my priorities so messed up? These questions inspired me to reexamine my attitudes about my books. I also realized I needed to look at other things that might be hindering me.
My books were a great picture of the weight we need to lay aside. All too often we think that if something is not a sin then it is ok. But sometimes even good things can be a weight. Sometimes we hold on to things that have outgrown their usefulness. They become heavy and burdensome. For example, a once useful program becomes a drain on resources and no longer provides results. Favorite lessons lose their fire and passion after years of repetition. Pursuing old dreams can keep us from enjoying the exciting life we have.
My friends and I needed to clean out our books. But more importantly, I needed to be reminded that even good and helpful things can become a hindrance. I need to consider which things may be holding me back, keeping me from running the race and running strong. Sometimes I am called to give up good and useful things because they are no longer valuable for me. I need to let go of all that hinders me and run toward Jesus, unencumbered and free.
I am guilty Lord of holding on to things that weigh me down. I do not want to be slow or worse, sidelined in the race you have called me to run. Let me give up the things that keep me from running the best race I can run. No matter what I give up, I am running toward something better, You! Thank you for teaching me this lesson. Help me to apply it to my life. You are awesome Lord, and all I really need.