At a certain age, we all put on a pack. It is small and has nothing in it at first. We're told subconsciously that we can never take out anything that we put into it without help from a very specific person. We're also told that only one kind of thing can go into it. Each of these things has a different weight, but all of them are heavy. These things are not rocks, but for our purposes here, we'll call them rocks.
The first few times we put those rocks into the pack, they feel pretty heavy, but with help readily available, and guidance from parents, the rocks are easily removed. As time goes by, sometimes we drift away from our parents and that one who can take the rocks out of our pack.
Sometimes we go a long time without putting any real big rocks in, but when we do, we often realize we've put many small rocks in without thinking much about it, and suddenly the pack feels very heavy, dragging us almost as much as we drag it along the road we travel.
Sometimes we forget altogether about the only one who can remove the rocks from our pack. Sometimes after we try very hard, we become good at pretending the weight of the rocks doesn't bother us. We even make friends with others who have equally heavy packs who will tell us there is no pack of rocks but that it's just an ordinary part of life. Sometimes they will even pick up two big rocks, put one in their own bag, and give you the other one for your bag which you readily add to the pile.
Sooner or later, some of us find ourselves tugging and hauling that pack on a lonely road, all by ourselves. We collapse in exhaustion and with cry of despair, we look behind us and see how enormous that pack has become. The sight can be overwhelming. How did it grow so heavy, we ask ourselves.
Then a stranger comes down the road and offers to help. At first we don't recognize him because we've been on a very rocky path and our attention was focused more on collecting rocks. We didn't notice that the stranger, whom we once knew very well, was so often stopped on the side of the road helping others. Our focus was on collecting more rocks.
Now finally we can go no further, and we recognize that stranger. He is the one. The only one who can remove the rocks from our pack. We beg him to help us. We tell him how sorry we are to have forgotten about him. He smiles and takes us by the hand, pulling us up to our feet. One by one he removes our rocks from our pack and puts them into the pack he carries on his back. As he does so, we notice that the rocks have grown sharp and treacherous. His hands are bruised and bleed as he willingly takes each rock from our pack.
Now we feel lighter than air. We notice that the rocks he has put into his own pack seem to get smaller and lighter until they entirely disappear. We wonder how it is done. We want to stay by his side and promise him that we will not pick up any more rocks. He hugs us, smiles, and walks with us for a while until we drift away, forgetting the burden of the rocks. We think, just one or two rocks won't be that heavy. And so it goes until we're right back in the middle of that rocky road. And there is our friend once again.
This time as he pulls the rocks from our pack, we determine to avoid rocks for good. We repeat this process until we only occasionally stoop to put in a pebble, still walking with our friend, but now that little pebble feels awfully heavy as we're used to having very few rocks in our pack, and luckily he's right there to remove them just as soon as we ask.
There will always be rocks on the road, but if we stay close to Christ, he will willingly remove the rocks from our pack when we ask. And as we grow wiser and older, we will lose interest in most rocks, and bending over to pick them up will seem like more work than it's worth.