“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts — no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff…” – Matthew 10:1-16, vss. 9-10
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel as a part of an interfaith mission group. We met to discuss the parameters of our trip, recommended readings, and the all-important guide on what to pack. While the list made suggestions, I took it as an inventory of must-haves. Before our departure, I made the arrogant comment to a friend, “I know I have over packed and I am comfortable with that!” This statement would set the tone for our excursion and would come back to haunt me!
As pilgrims of sorts, we gathered trinkets and tokens from the various sites to remind us of our visits to Jerusalem, Nazareth, The Dead Sea, and other sites etched in our memories from our study of the scriptures. We were so passionate about sharing upon our return, my friend and I had some of the mementos shipped home. And I continued to shop!
At the conclusion the interfaith portion of our trip, we extended our adventure to Europe. Not only was the checked bag weighed, but the weight of the carry-on was also taken into consideration. There was a major problem! While my friend was wise enough to jettison items she could have replaced, I did not operate with the same spirit. So I ended up overdressed and still beyond the weight requirements. But grace prevailed. All of the stuff I took to the Holy Land and all of the stuff purchased there were on their way back to Greensboro, without my having to incur the additional costs!
God’s lessons became clearer to me when we arrived in Rome. We planned to travel by train from the airport to the hotel. Along the way, we realized we were headed in the wrong direction. Changing trains meant taking a downward staircase, crossing underneath the tracks, and struggling up the steep stairs to meet the appropriate train. My bag was so heavy I considered abandoning it in the underground crossway! My frustration mounted to the point tears welled up in my eyes and all I could think about leaving that dead weight right where it was! In His love and humor, God sent a young man who lifted the bottom of the suitcase and helped me carry it up to the proper platform. I humbly and shamefully thanked him as an angel on my behalf. As I thanked God for the experience, I confessed to my friend, “one of the first sermons I will preach upon our return is you have to travel light!” Travel light was Jesus’ encouragement for His disciples then and resonates with us even now.
Jesus called 12 disciples who bore witness to His power throughout creation. He commissioned and sent them out to share this good news: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” As they went, the disciples traveled with a sense of urgency because of the message and dependence on God due to Jesus’ instructions. Their directive was to take only what was needed and nothing extra. Jesus was saying to them, “trust that I will take care of everything that concerns you; I will meet all of your needs.” Our contemporary understanding of Jesus’ saying translates this way: Don’t take on anything that will weigh you down, distract you or cause you to be so comfortable your determination and sense of purpose are diminished. God is calling us to travel light by humbling ourselves before Him and casting all of our anxieties for today and tomorrow at the feet of the One who cares for us.
As this challenging and rewarding semester draws to a close, it may be time to declutter or unpack to travel light. God is admonishing us to discard all that hinders our progress and seeks to undermine our success. Belles, you have the essentials: you have studied, taken advantage of tutorials, stayed connected to your professors, and remained engaged. You have examined your priorities and made choices that align with your goals. You recognize the counterproductive, frustrating, and time-wasting habits and outlooks. You continue to discern factors that prevent you from traveling light.
Hebrews 12: 1 reminds us to “strip off and throw aside every encumbrance, unnecessary weight and the failures which so readily cling to and entangle us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Amplified Bible)
Please receive this inspiration. Let us commit to ridding ourselves of the stuff – any habit, attitude, mindset, or excuse that keeps us bound up and weighed down. The stuff we carry drains the very life out of us, leaving us in an impoverished state with little usefulness to God, our neighbors, or ourselves. This stuff threatens to steal our hope and tarnish our joy. But the good news is we don’t have to allow baggage to go with us any further on this journey. God is with us to lighten our load. We can carry our burdens to Him and leave them there! “Less is the New More!” With God, we can TRAVEL LIGHT!
Stay prayerful and careful! Finish strong!
Love you much!
Natalie V. McLean