Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 TLB)
What slows you down? As each decade passes, I find the things that once couldn't stop me are more or less obstacles in my path these days. My strength is still good, but it isn't what it was in my twenties or thirties! I didn't used to have an artificial knee and running was no problem for me, but running with 'artificial parts' doesn't exactly make me the Bionic Woman! My grandson took a hike this weekend with his youth group and before he went he packed his 'survival gear'. It was as though he thought he'd have to keep the whole group hydrated, first aid rendered, and possibly navigate the open spaces of the mountains around us with his trusty compass. His pack was full to the brim! Before he left, my daughter had to help him 'pare down' a little bit of the stuff because he'd have worn himself out on the six mile jaunt with as much as he was carrying. He didn't like it, but his mom was right in doing so. In life, we sometimes carry way too much - things that eventually will hold us back if not let go of early on.
Stripped down we move at a much different pace than we do when we are all burdened down with things we don't really need to carry. If you have ever tripped on your own shoelaces, you know how easily you were 'entangled' in what was really meant to be a thing of help to you in life. Shoelaces were designed to keep our shoes on our feet so we could move with ease and not have excessive movement of our shoe as we did. They were designed for our comfort. Untied they become a source of entanglement - what once was designed for our good becomes an object of frustration and harm to us. We often don't realize how quickly the things that can start out as "good" in our lives can easily turn into things that are more of a burden or entanglement to us. When there is no evaluation of how well those things are 'maintained' or 'monitored' for effect in our lives, we might just find them becoming a burden down the road.
We run best when unburdened. Whatever is burdening you today, it is time to figure out how to 'strip down' from that stuff. Why? It will become your entanglement over the long run and you will trip and fall way too often for your liking! Ask yourself if whatever it is was really meant to be something helpful in your life and now you have allowed it to consume you. If so, then maybe it is time to pull back from that which demands so much of your attention that you miss out on what is happening around you. You don't have to 'get free' all by yourself, you know? You have God's help and the help of others you can 'tap into', but to do so, you must first recognize those things need to change - they need to go. Look down at an untied shoelace or recognize the looseness of the fit of your shoe and you usually stoop down to 'put things in order again', right? Look over your life to see what has become your 'tripping point' and you should be just as willing to 'put things in order again' in those areas, as well. If you find your 'want to' doesn't match your 'need to', then just ask for God's help. Specifically ask him to send you the right person to help you walk that out together - he knows who that should be. We don't have to get unburdened alone. Sometimes we need someone else to point out just how heavy that burden is we are carrying! Just sayin!