Last week I took a group of our teacher trainees on a hiking trip up a local mountain. The goal was just one: grow in character. With 30 students and 2 nights on the mountain, we divided into small groups to coordinate food, tents, and making sure everyone got to the top safely. I tasked each student with something specific from first aid to paying the guide. I asked one student, John, to find a machete before we left so we could cut fire wood at the campsite. John’s a quiet student who doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. He’s committed to learning anything put in front of him and works extremely hard.
As we started to hike up the mountain John approached me and confessed he wasn’t able to find a machete to bring. “Don’t worry Teacher Faith, last night I went to the woods behind the dorm a cut some wood.” I looked and slung over his shoulder was a big bag filled with chopped wood. “You’re going to carry that all the way up the mountain?” I asked. He convinced me he could do it.
About 2 hours into our 8 hour climb to the first campsite John started to lag behind. The wood was clearly weighing him down. In my mind I kept thinking, Why not just dump it, we can get wood at the campsite. We are SURROUNDED by trees! But committed to our goal of growing character, I let John carry on. “Let me carry it”, said one of his friends. John looked relieved. Over the next 6 hours we all switched off carrying the wood up the mountain.
While carrying that wood may have brought our group together, it felt so pointless. To walk amongst trees carrying wood. It made me reflect on my own life. How many times do I carry pointless burdens, worries, grudges that are totally unnecessary and that weigh me down? I know that God will provide for me. I know that once I overcome and conquer this mountain He will be there waiting. I know worrying just weighs me down. Yet in my own stubbornness or pride I refuse to cast off my burden to God and I carry it; slowly and painfully.
“Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
We have a phrase in our dorm that we constantly remind each other at the end of each day: Give it to God and go to sleep. I’m learning. He’s taken care of me this far. Will I trust Him to carry me the rest of the way?