Ever since seeing my dad’s as a kid I had wanted one.
A Stanley 1.1 quart Classic Thermos.
They’re not cheap as thermoses go, so I have often passed them up. But while I was in Walmart shopping for our trip, there it was. Spotlight from heaven shining down upon it. A vision of baby angels in diapers sitting on clouds was seen, and the sound of them singing and playing harps was heard. I knew this was God’s appointed time for me to finally spring for one. And so I did. As I drove home all I could think about was how great it would be drinking Starbucks Via from my thermos in the Canadian wilderness.
I packed my supplies for the trip and was excited about all of my gear, my new Stanley 1.1 quart Classic Thermos chief amongst it all. I took an earth science class in high school, and one of the things I took away from Mr. Moore’s class, when talking about survival in the outdoors, was to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. As I looked through my gear I was sure I had everything I needed.
But then something happened. I picked up my luggage. It was heavy.
No problem. My suitcase had wheels. But my suitcase wasn’t going into the outdoors with me. All of this stuff was going to go into a pack along with my share of team supplies, including food and a tent, all of which was to be carried on my back. And so, I took the painful measure of going through my gear and lightening my load. Some things that I really liked and wanted to take didn’t make the cut because I realized they were not essential.
I went through the process several more times, and each time I made the hard choice to leave things behind. One thing that kept making the cut, however, was my Stanley 1.1 quart Classic Thermos. As we were making final preparations before getting into our canoes and setting out for the week, Greg, one of our experienced team leaders saw me struggling to fit everything into my pack. I had crammed as much in as I could fit. I sat on my pack and squeezed out as much air as I could, but my thermos was not in the pack. Greg asked, “Do you have a cup?” I assured him I did. “If I was you,” he said, “I would leave the thermos. You’re not going to need it.”
What?! O no he didn’t! No way! This thermos was coming with me! I found a couple of carabiners and hooked the thermos onto my pack. Heavy? Yes. Necessary? Do you really have to ask?
By day 3 … I had not used the thermos … not once. I forgot I was going to be up so early each day and would have my 2 cups of coffee in me before 8am. I also apparently neglected to consider that I would be busy paddling all day and wouldn’t have time to sip coffee anyways, even if I wanted to. Plus, one of the carabiners broke and I had to deal with the thermos clunking around while I was struggling to carry my pack along the trails.
Sometimes we need to leave behind things in order to get where we want to go. Sometimes it’s obvious and easy. They may be things that we know are not good for us. They might be sinful things. But then, there are other things that are not as easy to identify and let go of because they are not bad. They are not sinful. But the issue isn’t whether or not they are bad, it’s a question of whether they are essential and helpful in getting us where God wants to take us. The hard thing is letting go of the good things that God tells us we must leave behind in order to reach the great places He wants to take us.
The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be brought under the control of anything” (HCSB).
The writer of Hebrews said it like this: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2, HCSB). Notice the two different things: 1) every incumbrance, and 2) the sin which so easily entangles us. Not just the things that will entangle our feet and trip us up (sin), but also the things that will encumber us and weigh us down, making if difficult to move forward.
What are the sin issues that God is calling you to lay aside in order to fulfill His plans for your life? What are other things – maybe even good things – that you know are not helping you in your journey – that God is calling you to let go of?