Catch your breath for a few minutes.
Wiping the sweat from my forehead with my shirtsleeve, I dropped the wooden box I was carrying and flopped onto the grass on the side of the road. The sun glared overhead. Verdant hills stood beyond the trees. Mountains rose in the distance.
Only a few hours more.
Taking a deep breath, I stood, grasped the box with both hands, and continued walking. After a while, the road ahead split into two paths. One road was smooth. The other road was covered with ruts and rocks.
Now which way do I go?
Since the mountains stood on the right, I turned and trudged down the rocky path. Thick groves of redwoods lined both sides of the trail, blocking most of the sunlight. Blisters began forming on my hands from carrying the heavy box.
Face the pain and keep going.
I have had this box for as long as I can remember. Over the years, it has become heavier and more difficult to take everywhere. This morning I found a note attached to the lid that said to carry the box to the foot of the tallest mountain. If I arrived successfully, there would be a reward.
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”*
The road sank along the bank of a stream. Now, my feet throbbed in my dusty boots. Sharp pain radiated through my arms. Grasping the box, I slogged through deep mud. Fear of becoming lost or injured crept into my heart, but I reminded myself of the note and kept moving.
Don’t give up.
The path stopped at the edge of the stream. A chill ran through my weary body as I waded through the icy water. With each step, I felt God’s presence beside me. Beyond the stream, the path widened and the forest thinned. Shafts of sunlight radiated through the thick treetops.
Eight hours of walking today and I’m exhausted.
Finally, the base of the mountain appeared through the trees. Heaps of rocks lay scattered everywhere. I dropped the box and sank to the ground. Carefully, I opened the box’s lid and removed one of the large rocks from inside. The word “fear” had been carved into the stone. Other rocks said “doubt”, “anger”, “sin”, “pride”, and “guilt”. Slowly I lifted each rock and added it to a nearby stack.
Now I understand why I’m here.
Once all the rocks had been removed, I found glittering jewels in the bottom of the box. I removed one of the colored gems and found “freedom” engraved in gold on it. Some of the other jewels said “joy”, “peace”, “faith”, and “grace”. I stood and picked up the box, rejoicing at its lightness.
Thank you, God, for showing me how to lighten the burden.
*Philippians 4:13, NIV
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