It's been said that life isn't a rehearsal, and that we only get one bite at the cherry. And as this is true, then the beliefs we hold and manner of our daily living, our attitudes and values, will have a critical bearing upon what lies ahead for us on the other side of death.
I've never met anyone who hasn't embarked upon the 'journey' of life who hoped it would prove any other than fulfilling and 'successful'. Of course, for every one of us life will be full of ups and downs and, in view of this reality, there's much we can do to help us negotiate the way as positively as we can. Let me share what was for me a valuable lesson from an historical event... but which had tragic consequences...
In 1845 Sir John Franklin embarked upon an ill-fated expedition to find an elusive Northwest passage which was hoped to improve commercial trading across the Arctic Ocean. Now this was one of the best prepared missions of its time. The crew of 134 men loaded their 2 sailing ships with huge quantities of food and all kinds of other provisions to ensure a safe and successful journey. But as well as all the expected essentials they took with them a number of items that they didn't really need. This included a 1200 volume library; fine china; crystal goblets and sterling silverware for each officer with his initials engraved on the handles.
Sadly however, though the sides of the ships had been specially reinforced to cope with Arctic conditions, they became trapped in the vast frozen plains of ice. After several months Lord Franklin, along with several other
men, died. The remainder decided to trek to safety in small groups, yet none of them survived the brutal conditions of their energy-sapping struggle. One story from this tragic affair is particularly heart-breaking.
Two officers pulled a large sled more than 65 miles across the treacherous ice. But when rescuers found their bodies they also discovered that the sled they were dragging was filled with... table silver!
There's no doubt that these men contributed to their own demise by carrying with them things they didn't need, and which only served to sap their strength and stamina.
A tragic story certainly. But is this not the kind of thing we're in danger of doing? I know I am, and perhaps you are also... dragging 'baggage' around with us which we don't need, and which certainly won't do us any good. Many things can be of no benefit to us and yet are hard to let go. And this is particularly unhelpful for those of us who profess to be Christians. For example, we can hold on to bad habits which grieve the Holy Spirit and quench His power in our lives; we can keep a 'record of wrongs' which can hinder our relationships with others, holding on to grudges that only hurt ourselves in the long run. We can also allow ourselves to be pre-occupied with things which, though not sinful in themselves, are 'dead works' which do nothing to bring us closer to the Lord, and often rather the opposite. Perhaps it's with all this in mind that the Lord says to us...
'...lay aside everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles...'
If we do, we'll be in far better shape to 'run and not be weary, to walk and not be faint' , as we begin to 'journey' through 2023. And we won't lose our 'hunger' for the Lord... to know Him, serve Him and savour Him... pressing on in our quest to finish the race well.