Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NIV
With more than 2,000 miles to walk, he chose carefully what to put in his backpack.
World War II was over, and Earl Shaffer needed to walk it out of his system. He chose the Appalachian (or Government) Trail to do so. At the time, the trail began at Oglethorpe, Georgia, and extended to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Since most the men had been away fighting in the war, the trail had fallen into disrepair, making the journey more challenging.
Earl’s motto was “Carry as little as possible but choose that little with care.” And he did. He carried a survival tent, poncho, rain hat, knife, ax, sewing kit, snake-bite kit, cook kit, clothing, and a week’s worth of food. Even though he chose the bare minimum to put in his pack, he still felt loaded down.
Because of Earl’s training and determination—and because he chose with care what he carried, he became the first person to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.
I’ve done a little backpacking myself and know how important it is to choose my load with care. My first extended backpacking trip with my daughter revealed I hadn’t learned Earl’s wisdom. My pack weighed in at 50 pounds and my daughter’s at 35. Though we had fun, we also experienced misery because of unnecessary weight. Our loads slowed us down and gave us a backache.
What Paul states in this verse makes common sense. Any burden shared is lighter. Jesus said the load of obeying Him was easy, so if following Him is causing me misery I must be doing something wrong.
Burdens are cumbersome when I carry the wrong things in my life’s pack. They might include bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, immorality, depression, frustration, hurt, or lies. When I carry unhealthy emotions, actions, or relationships, my soul aches. Nor does anyone want to help me bear them.
My helping others and their helping me also makes the load lighter. Many people helped Earl along the way, making his journey more bearable. People who took him to get food and supplies. People who gave him a place to stay out of the inclement mountain weather. Giving others permission to hold me accountable, helping others bear their life loads, and depending on God for strength are all vital.
Don’t try to do life alone. Share the load.
Prayer: Father, motivate us to carry each other’s loads and, most of all, to depend on You for strength to do so.