// KENNETH W. HAGIN
IN THE U.S., most students are preparing to go back to school at this time. The start of a new school year can be stressful for them and their parents.
Nationwide, billions of dollars are spent every year on back to school shopping. One popular item is a new backpack. Nowadays, most kids carry backpacks and stuff them with their books and school supplies. Have you ever seen a youngster with a backpack so loaded down that it was almost dragging on the ground? It can be so heavy that the child even leans sideways!
Life can be like carrying a weighty backpack. Each of us carries a heavy load from time to time, sometimes bigger than we can manage. No matter our age, we all deal with similar problems. Fear, worry, doubt, and discouragement try to keep us from fulfilling our purpose in life.
Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) tells us to, "strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
The Bible story of a little boy and his lunch—five loaves and two fish—provides a good illustration of weights that can hinder us. Of course, he did not have a backpack, but we can see from this passage of scripture what should go in it to run our race successfully.
JOHN 6:5–13 (NIV)
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"
6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, "It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up,
9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).
11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."
13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Take the Junk Out
From reading this story, we can see the disciples were carrying some wrong mindsets and attitudes in their "backpacks of life." It's an example of what not to allow in our lives.
LACK OF COMPASSION. One thing we don't need to carry is a lack of compassion. In Matthew's account of this story, the disciples told Jesus to send the people away (Matt. 14:15). They didn't even try to look for a way to help the tired and hungry crowd. They lacked compassion.
FEAR OF CHALLENGES. The disciples saw the crowd and feared the overwhelming challenge before them. They looked at the problem and forgot about Jesus.
DOUBT. The disciples didn't believe that what they had was enough to meet the need. Doubt will defeat us every time if we only look at what we have or what we can do. But if we give both to Jesus, all things are possible.
QUESTIONABLE RELATIONSHIPS. We become like the people we hang out with. In this story, Philip didn't think they could do anything, and Andrew agreed with him. They both doubted. First Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) says, "Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for 'bad company corrupts good character.' " We need to be careful of the people that we associate with. Befriending the wrong people can get us in trouble.
Fill Up With the Essentials
After we've emptied ourselves of the things that weigh us down, there are essential things we need to fill up with and always carry in our "backpacks."
PREPARATION. The little boy was prepared for what he would encounter that day. Before leaving home, he probably thought, "I might get hungry. I better take some food with me."
Everyone—adults and children alike—should ask themselves each day, "Am I prepared. Do I have what I need in my backpack for life today?" The Bible records that nameless young boy as one who made a difference in the lives of a multitude. We never know how God would like to use us when we leave the house. Let's be prepared. Through Christ, we can provide an atmosphere that will cause others to be blessed.
ENCOURAGEMENT. It's surprising how many people don't have anyone in their corner rooting for them. Be the person who inspires and encourages others. Tell people you believe in them and that they can make it.
PERSISTENCE. Even though we may experience setbacks, we have to be persistent and continue to plan and push forward. If we're going to get anywhere in life, we have to have an "I won't quit" attitude.
POTENTIAL. What looked like a limited amount of food proved to have a huge impact when it was placed in the hands of Jesus. The young boy probably didn't think he would be part of a miracle that day, but the possibility was there. Every time we leave the house, the potential is there for us to be a winner and bless others.
Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—you are the key elements in helping children to reach their potential. Speak words of life to them. Make sure they know their ability to make a difference in their world! Just like the little boy in the story made a difference in his world.
PURPOSE. Everyone has a God-given purpose. We may not know the name of the boy with the loaves and fish, but his purpose is recorded in history. Psalm 138:8 (MSG) says, "Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don't quit on me now." If you don't quit on God, He won't quit on you. He will see you through and fulfill all the plans He has for you.
Through this year and beyond, let's remove the things in our lives that weigh us down. Then let's fill up with the things that are essential to winning in life.