In my last post, I mentioned that Dave and I did a lot of wilderness camping over the years. Since writing that, I’ve remembered a bit more about those “adventures”! One of the most difficult aspects was backpacking absolutely everything, including the canoes, over two separate portages. One was ¾ of a mile long and bypassed a beautiful waterfall – which wouldn’t have looked so beautiful from the perspective of going over it in a canoe! The other was a half-mile long, up and down, through the trees, making our way around a swamp. I assure you that neither was much fun!

Portaging actually was common among the fur traders in the north. It simply means that you pack up everything and carry it on your back overland until you come to the water again. In addition to the canoes, we had to move personal packs, kitchen packs, medical packs, and tent packs! We carried every single pack, each weighing 100 lbs. or more, on our backs while we trekked through the woods, up and down hills, and over huge rocks. All the while, we were fighting off mosquitoes and sweating profusely! The load was heavy, and we periodically had to stop for a few minutes’ rest.

An overland portage can be compared in several ways to the journey of being a widow. First, it was essential that we keep our focus on the goal – the lovely, pristine, wilderness campsite towards which we were headed. The end of our journey was definitely worth all the hard work it took to get there! Second, we looked forward to the time at the end of the portage when we could drop those heavy packs from our backs and either flop in the grass or dive into the cold water for a swim! And, if we were especially blessed, someone would come back up the trail, take the pack from us, and carry it the rest of the way for us!

Some days, being a widow feels like carrying a 100-pound pack on your back. There’s just no way around it. You’ve been left to try to do what two people used to do together. It doesn’t just FEEL impossible to accomplish, it IS impossible to accomplish! When you start up the trail with a heavy burden on your back, the first thing you must do is get the load balanced. So it is with life. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us, “…do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” What He’s saying here is that we should not attempt to carry the entire load at once! Sort it out and get it balanced before you begin each day’s trail.

When we feel the load is too much, we can look ahead and see One coming back down the trail to help us. He is the One who has already carried His own load to the end and knows every difficulty we will face. What a beautiful picture! In Matthew 11:29-30 we find these words:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, 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.”

A yoke was designed to allow two to work together in harmony without pain, and without either carrying the whole load. Anything shared is easier to accomplish! Turn first to the Lord, and then make sure you have a few people in your “true community” you can call to help carry the load.

My final thought on this topic is an encouragement! The end of every trail will eventually arrive! One of the most important things we can do is to keep our eyes on the goal. Hebrews 12:2 says,

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 As I write this, I’m reminded of an old song – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. The chorus is probably familiar to many of you and goes like this:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

We will keep our eyes expectantly on the trail ahead, watching for the coming of the One who knows the way and will help us with the load. One day we will reach the end of this earthly portage, and we’ll experience that final burst of relief when the heavy load drops away. (Just for fun, try a google search of “Lay my burdens down”, and you’ll come up with lots of song lyrics that detail exactly what we can expect!)

Until next time, keep trekking!  Comments and thoughts are welcome, or email me at

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