In the Himalayan Mountains, weary travelers will find brief places of rest alongside the trail in the form of small notches that are cut into the sheer rock walls. The cut out is intentionally large enough for the traveler to rest the weight of his or her backpack onto the small ledge that is formed. With the burden now momentarily lifted from their shoulders, travelers are able to stop, reflect on the significance of what they just accomplished, and then plan for the magnitude of the journey still ahead of them. This place of respite and visioning is called, “sumatanga.”
Each of us carries a backpack filled with all that life has handed us. Some of what’s in our packs, we welcome and cherish like: a dedication to living as a disciple, family responsibilities, our desire to volunteer, and our friendships.
While some are put in our packs without our knowledge or against our will like: pressures at work, the expectation to “keep up with the Jones’s,” and sickness. The weight of our packs from both the welcomed and unwelcomed baggage can weigh us down. It can weigh us down so much that we get to the point where we are just mindlessly trudging forward, not appreciating the past, not looking to the future. Just going because we are supposed to keep going.
How wonderful it would feel, if we had a place to rest our packs. A place where we could set down our burdens, rest, reflect, and refocus every now and then. Today, I tell you, we have that place. Psalm 62 begins by saying, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
Dedicated times with God in prayer, retreat, and Bible study are all places where we can rest our packs. It is in these times when the influences of the world no longer are placed on our shoulders.
Whereas a sumatanga remains in one place and when the traveler leaves that place on the trail, the full weight of the pack is once again on their back; when we find rest in God, our burdens become lighter and easier to carry.
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