Excess Baggage Fee

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”--Hebrews 12:1

I think I’ve mentioned here before that I tend to live my faith in a minor key. I seem to be hard-wired to identify with life's strain and struggle, not necessarily its triumphs and victories. Songs or instrumental music with a steady, persevering rhythm speak to me. Sweet notes of sadness tend to move me.

I think it's this wiring which draws me to the sport of cycling, with its often long and lonely hours of pain—and ultimately triumph. I think of this particularly on difficult climbs in the hills and mountains west of Boulder. Today was no exception. With the fall colors ablaze and the first snow around the corner, I wanted to tackle Flagstaff Mountain one more time. I’ll admit it, that ride never gets any easier. It’s a painful slog, kind of like hiking on a bike. As I approach the upper portion of the climb, I’ve learned to hide my full water bottle by the amphitheatre turnoff so I don’t have to carry it up the steep switchbacks cyclists here call “Superflag”—pitches that approach 18% in places. A large, full water bottle is more than an extra pound and a half to tote up the climb…and the climb is already painful enough without it.

There’s a metaphor here, of course. We go through so much of our lives toting heavy loads from our pasts and bad habits in our present. Our ability to endure in faith is slowed and our effectiveness as disciples is diminished as we doggedly drag all this stuff around. Unresolved issues from our families of origin. Resentments and unforgiveness. Old tapes about ourselves. Addictions. You name it. Whatever our baggage, when the challenges come (and they always do), we’re weighed down and our energy flags quickly.

If only we could ditch some of this baggage as easily as a waterbottle on Flagstaff Mountain! I know it’s not that simple. But I wonder: can we get to the point where we can at least identify what excess baggage we’re carrying, and begin to determine its weight? What’s a waterbottle-sized problem we can let go of? A duffle bag? A trunk? Oh, to go through life traveling light!

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