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Earlier in the fall, a friend and I attended a cool event called True Strength. True Strength is a three-day faith and fitness camp hosted by FAITH RXD. I got introduced to the camp in the summer during a visit to College Station and was excited when the time finally came for us to go. Since most of you reading this have a passion for both Jesus and CrossFit, a True Strength camp would be right up your alley. The days were broken up into workouts, coached clinics, Scripture teaching, and small group discussion. They have some phenomenal coaches on staff and the event was first class all the way. On the final day of camp, they arranged for us to workout at a nearby ranch. As my friend and I loaded into his jeep and headed out, I was struck by all the wildlife as well as the beautiful sunrise. When we parked and hopped out, just through the mist of the early morning, I could see on the pavilion something waiting for us. I shook my head and grinned slightly as I wondered what in the world we were going to do with sandbags.

When it comes to awkward objects, I’ll put sandbags near the top of the list. Athletes and coaches have devised all sorts of ways to lift, twist, and otherwise contort these bad boys. The final day of camp was no exception. Our instructions were simple. We were to pick a heavy sandbag, clean it over our shoulder in rapid fashion six to eight times, then bear hug it while squatting to failure. Man, sometimes I can’t believe the things we do for fitness! On top of that, everyone not going was to encourage those who were with an incredibly loud voice. There was plenty of yelling not only from the onlookers, but also from those tackling the challenge, including me. I am not one to draw attention to myself during a workout, but coach made it clear that every squat was an opportunity to let out the fears and insecurities inside, and with every deep roar I could feel it happening. After everyone finished, I caught up with Ben Alderman, a True Strength coach, CrossFit games athlete, and the owner of Iron Mile Fitness in Sacramento, California. As we replayed the challenge and talked about the spiritual side of the workout, Ben said something so profound I couldn’t turn loose of it, “The bag was always too heavy to carry.”

Think about the sandbags of life, those unnecessary burdens we carry that weigh us down and keep us from fully experiencing all we could. Like the sandbag of always trying to have it all together. Have you ever found yourself exhausted from trying to project to the world that everything is great? I have. The truth is when we carry this burden around, what we’re really trying to do is mask the inadequacy inside. We want people to think we have it all together, but in reality, we’re barely holding on. What about financial burdens? I’ve seen people carry the sandbag of debt or they’re living month to month simply to maintain a lifestyle they really don’t need. I’ve watched husbands and wives toss this sandbag back and forth trying to blame the other for the burden they carry. And then there’s the burden of who we are. The sandbag of our identity. For 39 years, I built my identity around things the world told me to. Things like my career, my bank account, my body image, it was all about me. But there are costs that come with living a lifestyle like that. It cost me relationships, it cost me time I will never get back, and it cost me personally because everywhere I went that sandbag came with me.

That’s why Ben’s words were so powerful because they reminded me the sandbags in my life were always too heavy to carry. I was just afraid to lay them down. That is, until I met Jesus. When I began a relationship with Jesus, He offered me an opportunity to let it all go. In fact, He did more than that, He offered me a new identity. No longer did I have to be some selfish arrogant prideful guy, I could be someone different. For seven years God has written a new story about me. Here’s what’s crazy though – God knew all of this was going to happen before I was ever on the planet. All I needed to do was lay it down. What do you need to lay down today? What sandbags are you carrying in this life? I know they may feel like security blankets, but they’re robbing you of the richest, fullest, most satisfying life you’ll ever live. Give them all to Jesus and realize they were always too heavy to carry.

Questions for Reflection:

If the burdens of the past are forgiven by Christ, why is it hard to let go of them?

Can you recall a time in your life where you felt like you wrestled with God? Describe the experience.

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