Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2


I’ve learned from experience what to pack for a trip and what to leave behind. Here are a couple of my favorite packing secrets: First, I limit the shoes. They’re bulky and take up valuable space, so I like to wear the same pair for the entire trip if possible. I also reduce the number of pieces of heavy clothing like blue jeans and sweaters. One sweater is usually enough for a week. I’ve learned that dragging a giant suitcase up and down stairs, in and out of trains hurts my back, makes me anxious, and generally prevents me from enjoying my trip. Even worse, I have no space to carry home souvenirs because I’m already loaded down with stuff from home.


In my personal life, I have “baggage” that weighs me down. Some are innocent distractions like hobbies, books, or movies. This sounds crazy to my friends and family, but one of my favorite hobbies is to read blogs and discussion boards about computer technology. Nothing wrong with that, but taken too far, this “weight” can interfere with more important priorities. Some baggage is less innocent—sins that entangle me and drag me away from God’s purpose. Even sins that seem small at first, like the sin of worry or discontentment, can cling so closely and make running the race nearly impossible. In all cases, weights and sin pull my attention away from God’s agenda and draw me toward my own.


I don’t want to carry an analogy too far, but being distracted by a spiritual “overfilled suitcase” can slow us down. The weight is distracting, exhausting, stressful, and prevents us from completing the task before us. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Let’s quit burdening ourselves with many distractions and fix our eyes instead on Jesus, the One who initiated the race and the only one who can enable us to finish it successfully.


[This article first appeared on 2 Me from Him with Norma Gail on Jan 19, 2015. Please visit author Norma Gail’s website and her book Land of My Dreams, a sweet Christian romance set in beautiful Scotland, available on Amazon]