What’s In Your Backpack?

Ready for a Shakedown?

During my college summers, I worked at Philmont National Boy Scout Ranch in NE New Mexico. Part of my duties as Ranger included going out on the trail and teaching backpacking skills. 

Each time I met my new crew, time was devoted to “shakedown”. Tarps spread out under a shady tree, everyone dumped out all their backpack contents to see and decide what was essential for the trip. 

Anything too bulky, too heavy, or too “luxury” usually got tossed into a leave-behind pile. 

Crews complaining about needing to travel light (for their own comfort and wellbeing) grimaced at my suggestions to leave items behind. The final choices would be theirs, but did they really need the 10 pound heavy duty size D battery flashlights? 🤣

Once we hit the trail with packs loaded down including only essentials, most were grateful not carrying one more ounce of anything.

Then came the prank. While my crew members were busy rock climbing, some of the back country staff thought it would be fun to toss a few rocks inside the bottom of their packs. Now wasn’t that a mean thing to do? Hmmm. 

After several miles of hiking with “extra” loaded-down backpacks, we arrived at our destination. No one even noticed the extra weight until much later, probably while retrieving clean socks for the next days hike!

All this to say, how often do we go around caring extra weight- extra burdens we were never meant to carry in the first place? Why bog down our lives with nonessentials? Have we become so accustomed to carrying the extra weight we no longer notice it?

Sometimes we just need to stop and have our own shakedown- emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Worries about tomorrow? They are nonessential! What about fear of failing? Nonessential. Fear for our loved ones’ futures? Worries about finances? Losing a job? Shame? Secrecy? Guilt?

Not worth the worry. None of these will add a moment to our lives- but the stress may adversely affect our health!

Why not leave these worries and burdens at the cross of Jesus? He already gave us a command and promise in Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Take a few minutes today to do a shakedown. Is there anything in your backpack you were simply not meant to carry? Decide now to leave it behind with Jesus, so you can be a little freer- a little lighter. Let it be so.


  1. Such a great analogy! Love it and I am motivated to “get some rocks out of my backpack”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *