A traveler is happier the lighter his load. – Marcus Felix
I lead backpacking teams to hike Machu Picchu, Mount Kilimanjaro, and walking in the footsteps of Jesus around Israel.
Most people bring way too much in their backpack for those hikes. A pack that’s too heavy can really make for a difficult trip. So the night before the hike I have everyone weigh their bag and I have them remove things they don’t need. This process gets pretty emotional in a hurry! Team members worry they might not have something they need. But as the hike progresses, they are usually grateful that I had them pull things out. It makes their hike a lot more enjoyable.
Life is a lot like those hiking trips. We all have things we carry with us on the journey of life—things we think we will need. Like a hiker adding rocks to a backpack in case they come across a bear, we add things we think will give us security, connection, and control. But the weight on our shoulders gets heavier and heavier. And we get tired and angry and frustrated.
We can only carry so much. We only have so much time, money, and energy. At some point we have to slow down and take a look at what we’re carrying. We may have to leave some good things behind to make room for the most important things.
The question then becomes: What do I bring with me in my bag for life?
Jesus boiled what’s most important down to two things: 1) Love God 2) Love people. (Matt. 22:37) In that order. Our top priority should always be giving our best resources to God and then to people. That’s what God values. When we give our best to what He values, it will lead to peace and joy and fulfillment.
In today's verse, Jesus said He knows we’re worried about what we’ll wear and eat—our security, connection, and control—but He says that if we want all those things to be fulfilled we need to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” We get what we need most by seeking what God wants—seeking His order. Which means there might be some good things we need to leave behind to love Him and those people He has given us in our life—our spouse, our kids, our family, our church community.
If giving the best of your time, money, and energy to God and people feels like a burden, then it might be time to take some things out of your bag. Let go of the good to make room for the best—what God says is most important. You can be certain that when you seek His Kingdom first it will cause the anger, anxiety, and frustration to lessen. And He will provide everything you need.