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Stones in Your Backpack

Jesus taught with stories. These stories carried powerful messages to those that otherwise could not absorb what He was teaching. I am also fond of teaching with stories, and I figure if it worked for Jesus, it just might work for me!

So, gather ‘round! It’s Story Time, ya’ll!

One morning, God spoke to a young man, asking him to carry three stones up the hill for Him. Gladly, the young man agreed, pleased to do anything the Lord might ask of him. He put the three stones in his backpack and started the long trip up the hill. The stones were light, the day beautiful, and he sang as he went, happy to be of service to God, whom he loved dearly.

After about half a mile, he passed a friend’s house. The friend waved a greeting and asked what was in his backpack. He explained the stones, the hill, and how he loved to serve the Lord. The friend said he had some stones, old and mossy, that needed to go up the hill too. Would he take his rocks up, since he had extra room? The young man said he’d be happy to and, PLOP, three mossy rocks went into his backpack. With a somewhat heavier but still quite bearable load, he walked on feeling happy to be of service to his friend and God, whom he loved dearly.

Soon he passed another friend gardening in his yard. The young man rested as they visited, the conversation coming around to the backpack. The friend had just dug up three muddy rocks and needed them to go up the hill too. The young man opened up his backpack and, PLOP, they were added to his load. He noticed the extra weight as he wiped the sweat from his brow, but he still felt good about being of service to his friends and to God, whom he loved dearly.

Another half mile up the trail, the young man was getting quite tired and thirsty, so he stopped at the next house. A person came out carrying a cold glass of lemonade! Noticing the heavy backpack, now nearly full of stones, the person pulled out three ugly gray rocks from his pocket and held them out. How could the young man say no after his kindness? So, reluctantly, PLOP, he added them to the backpack, shouldered the load, and trudged up the hill. 

He was not far from the top now, but the hill became steep, the backpack very heavy now, and he panted harder with every step.

The young man found himself growing more and more angry with God, whom he wasn’t very happy with right now, for giving him such a difficult task to do! And with every step he took, he stewed.  

Finally, in sheer exhaustion, he dropped the backpack with a THUD, sat down next to it and complained loudly, “This is it, God! I have had enough! I’m done with this backpack and done with you! I quit!”

The Lord was there in a moment, placing His hand on the shoulder of the young man, whom he loved dearly, and asked, “What’s the matter, Dear One?”

The young man looked up and explained that God had asked too much of him; his burden was too heavy. 

The Lord acted surprised but then weighed the backpack in His hands.  

“Where did all these other rocks come from?” asked the Lord. “I only gave you three stones to carry up the hill; My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

God pulled out the muddy, mossy and the ugly grey stones, and gently eased the backpack onto the young man’s shoulders. God helped him to his feet and smiled into his tired face.

“I never asked you to carry the weight of the world, Child of Mine; just the stones I knew you could handle.” 

With a lighter load, a lighter heart, and a deeper understanding of the God whom he loved dearly, the young man headed for the top of the hill. And once again, he started to sing.

Can you relate to this parable?

I surely can! I have definitely sat on the side of the road, crying out to God because I couldn’t go on with my backpack so full! Just like our young friend, I tend to take on the burdens of those around me, shouldering troubles and obligations that God never intended for me to carry. 

And here’s the thing: I did most of it because I thought it was what God wanted! I was under the misguided impression that I was to carry other’s stones and trudge through life to please God,” whom I love dearly!  

Yes, it’s true that there are seasons we are asked to carry the burdens of our friend, family and community. But even then, God doesn’t overburden and overwhelm. He knows what makes us stronger and what will leave us broken.

We humans, we will often overburden ourselves. Flimsy boundaries or practicing codependent behaviors are stones. PLOP. Unhealthy relationships and past family issues can be stones. PLOP. Even assuming negative intentions of the people around us can become extra stones. PLOP.

These are not from God. God’s way has our best interests at heart, and His divine insight knows what we can handle. What He puts in our backpacks to carry brings us to the top of the hill with a song on our lips!

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

As you walk with your backpack and head up the hill, turn to God to know what you need to carry and what can be handed to Him to carry. After all, YOU are one that God loves dearly!

Go in this knowledge, friends. And don’t forget to sing a little along the way!




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1 Comment

May 03

I love that Jesus invites us to share the yoke He is already carrying. I get the sense of a parent inviting their child to "help" with the chore, while the parent will really be doing the 'heavy lifting.' Thanks Namra

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