Friday, October 2, 2015

The Parable of the Two Backpacks

Sometimes I get these strange "pictures" that help me see things a little more clearly.
To me, they are like "The unfolding of God's Word, giving light and understanding to the ME." (Ps. 119:130)
Kind of like little personal "parables", I guess.

Over these past few weeks I have watched so many people I know and love experience unimaginable losshardship and pain, begging the question: "God, just WHERE is one supposed to PUT ALL THAT??"

So a couple of days ago, I was pondering that question, when out of the blue, HE downloaded the answer in the form of a picture.  It brought some clarity and understanding to the "baggage" we take with us on our Journey of Suffering...the difference between SORROW and SADNESS.

The TRUTH is...
SADNESS is a necessary emotion...but SORROW is an unnecessary burden.
SADNESS labels one's circumstance...but SORROW labels one's condition
SADNESS sheds tears (sometimes enough to fill a bucket)...but SORROW tears us up.
SADNESS comes and goes...but SORROW comes and stays.

Whether it's the DEATH of a loved one, a devastating DIAGNOSIS, or as in my case, the death of a DREAM, these places of suffering are H-A-R-D and oftentimes very DEBILITATING!

I can remember the exact day almost a year and a half ago when the SORROW over my own LOSS was lifted off my shoulders and my SADNESS was given its RIGHTFUL place...BEHIND me, not ON TOP of me.

In the days that followed, I was still SAD (and still am!), but SORROW no longer RULED OVER me. It no longer DEFINED my actions, DICTATED my conversations, or DESTROYED my confidence. I felt released to embrace and carry ALL the fullness of JOY, without being tethered to and bound by SORROW.
That was the day I realized it was not the SADNESS that was holding me back and stealing my joy, it was the SORROW that I was carrying ON MY BACK!
That was a LIFE-giving and LIFE-altering revelation straight from the Father's heart to mine!
That was the day I was SET FREE from what I now understand was a BURDEN of SORROW!

But it wasn't until just a few days ago that I got this "picture" as a gentle reminder to myself, as I am so often tempted to pick up that burden AGAIN!
I call it the "Parable of the Two Backpacks"...
SORROW and SADNESS are like the "BACKPACKS" we take with us on our Journey of Suffering.
They are where we pack, store and carry all the stuff we take on this journey. And sometimes we pick up some extra "souvenirs" along the way (lies from the enemy, shame, anger, bitterness), which just add more weight and make the journey all that much more cumbersome.

These two BACKPACKS look exactly alike, EXCEPT for one key difference:
One has STRAPS...the other has WHEELS.
The difference is...
SORROW has to be carried on our shoulders...but SADNESS can be pulled behind us.
SORROW misaligns and changes our posture...but our POSTURE is what aligns and changes our SADNESS.
SORROW doesn't allow any room for JOY...but SADNESS takes its RIGHTFUL place and allows JOY to rest on our shoulders.
SORROW crawls into bed with us at night...but SADNESS goes to bed in another room and allows us to get REST.

BACKPACKS are a necessary part of any long journey. But research has shown that using a backpack with WHEELS to transport our "stuff" is far better for us than using one with STRAPS.

Because the TRUTH is...
When we carry SORROW on our backs, all we can think about how HEAVY it much it SUFFOCATING it is! And under the crushing weight of SORROW, we get BENT OVER...we get bent OUT OF SHAPE, and our eyes become fixed to the ground...on our SUFFERING

When we pull SADNESS behind us, we are free to STAND UP tall, UNENCUMBERED by the weight of our suffering. We can walk with our HEADS UP and our eyes FIXED straight ahead. We can keep our FOCUS on JESUS, our "Baggage Handler", who promised to walk W.I.T.H. us...Watchfully Interceding Transforming & Helping us every step of the way!

What I have learned is that it's really okay to bring SADNESS with me on this Journey of Suffering. In fact, it's necessary. There's no shame in it. It's part of the experience
But unlike Sorrow, SADNESS doesn't  have to REPLACE JOY...because as I pull it BEHIND me, my shoulders are free to CARRY the JOY OF THE LORD, which IS MY STRENGTH!

The TRUTH is...
SUFFERING is a trip we will ALL take at some's unavoidableIt's never one we embark on BY CHOICE. It's never one we are PREPARED for or PLAN for in advance. And most of the time it takes us by TOTAL surprise.

While I'm no "travel expert", I can only speak from my own experience as I have travelled this journey of LOSS...and that is, a BACKPACK WITH WHEELS is the ONLY way to go!

But WHAT IF you are stuck in the middle of that journey RIGHT NOW and are just now realizing you have the WRONG BACKPACK?! 
It's simple...TRADE IT IN and get one with WHEELS!

As I write this, I am reminded of this familiar song..."I'm TRADING my SORROW, I'm TRADING my PAIN, I'm laying it DOWN for the JOY of the Lord...and I say YES, YES, Lord! Amen!"

It's really a SUPERNATURAL that has the power to CHANGE us...EVEN IN THE MIDST of our SUFFERING!

Oh, yeah...and one more thing: Never travel ALONE! Because whether you're on a CRUISEship or a HARDship, the trip is so much BETTER with faithful FRIENDS!

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