Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before, us, looking to Jesus...
- Hebrews 12.1, 2
Thus we must lay down whatever we love apart from Christ for Christ's sake...
- Columbanus, Sermon X (Irish, 7th century)
Concerning the extraordinary life of Columnbanus, John T. McNeill wrote, "There is something difficult for [modern] minds to grasp in this seventh-century Irishman who by choice lived below our poverty level; who founded a series of monasteries among foreign peoples; who made friends of bears and squirrels in a forest retreat; who wrote and enforced the severest ascetic rules; who took it upon himself to advise popes and dared to rebuke rulers with power to put him to death; who preached diligently from a fund of biblical knowledge; who was unsurpassed in classical learning among his contemporaries, loving and in a free way imitating the Latin poets; and who in his late years wrote a versified letter in a rare meter which, he explains, was practiced by Sappho" (The Celtic Churches).
Yes, well, that is a bit hard to understand. But Columbanus lived by what he wrote. He would have nothing in his life that weighed him down from running the race assigned to him by Jesus. Whatever he read, did, thought, wrote, spoke - or ate and drank, for that matter - was carefully considered for its contribution to the progress of the Gospel. Nothing was allowed in his life that did not further his race.
Many of us live like the way we experience ourselves in dreams. Ever find yourself running in a dream? Or trying to get somewhere you know you're supposed to be? It's like a huge weight is strapped on your back, or your feet just can't get traction, or one after another obstacle or diversion gets in the way of your getting where you want to be.
I'm no Jungian when it comes to dreams, but the Lord Who upholds the world and everything in it is as much on the job while we are sleeping as when we are awake. These dreams, especially those where we are weighed down and hindered, might be trying to tell us something which we do not recognize while we are awake: God has assigned us a race. It is difficult enough as it stands. But when we try to carry more baggage than we ought - things, diversions, worries and fears, the desire for advancement - we bog ourselves down in our pursuit of the Kingdom and make very little progress.
It almost never occurs to us that we may be carrying too much baggage, that the weight with which we have encumbered ourselves is not the weight of eternal glory but the weight of mere worldliness, and that such weight is working against our making progress in seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God.
What unnecessary weight are you carrying? Lay it aside. Look to Jesus. Learn from Him to desire His Kingdom above all else. See in Him - in Him - the upward prize of the high calling of your life. Then run, run every day, looking to Jesus.
Like Columbanus and the many Irishmen like him who turned their world rightside-up for Christ, let us divest ourselves of all unnecessary weight, every worldly distraction or diversion and all merely fleshly interests, and let us settle beneath the weight of the glory which is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6).
There the weight of glory will compact, revive, and lift you to new heights of strength and desire. Under the weight of Christ's glory, all other weights laid aside, you'll find new zeal, vigor, and joy for the race of your life, the race to make known the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom.
Let this be our motto, brethren: No extra weight; only the weight of glory!
T. M. Moore, Principal
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