One event I look forward to each year is our annual summer family vacation. I have always loved this special, memory-making time with my husband and children. And while in recent days the length and locations have adapted to our growing family (yay for grandkids!), we all still enjoy this yearly time together.
One thing that unfortunately has not changed for me over the years is my propensity toward excessive packing. My family can attest to this. In fact, my sons love to bring up stories from vacations past of carrying my bags of books, family food, family activities, clothing for any occasion, personal scrapbooking and craft supplies for any “down” time, and…well you get the picture!
As the mom, I feel the need to be prepared for any and all needs or opportunities that might arise on our trip. I’m simply not skilled at packing light. And even though I’ve seen all the tutorials for packing seven days of outfits into a carry-on bag, I still can’t do it. Whether I pack for an overnight trip or a two-week stay, I always have several bags of luggage. My husband’s now-famous words before any trip are, “Honey, do you think we could limit it to one bag?” And my standard reply is, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t…!”
I love the journey we call the Christian life. And while, like any trip, there are bumps in the road or unforeseen trouble along the way, the Christian journey is pretty amazing. Sometimes, though, we limit our joy on the journey because of how we pack for it. We pack like I do for family vacation—loading up on anything and everything we think we might need. In so doing, we are burdened by it all.
So, what can we remove to help us on our journey? The first thing we must remove is excess baggage. Just as I need to learn to travel light on family trips, we all need to travel light on our Christian journey. Most of us have picked up some excess baggage along the way. Of course, I’m not talking about baggage from the carousel at the airport. I’m talking about the excess baggage that goes around in the carousel of our minds—the baggage of bitterness, pain, guilt, and sin. God wants us to leave our past in the past.
Paul said in Philippians 3:14–15, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Most airlines have a strict limit on how many suitcases you can have. If you were living in Jesus’ day as one of His disciples, you would not be allowed to have any.
Mark 6:7–8 says, “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse.”
Sometimes when we pack, we bring things that are not necessary. Thinking realistically, we know that we will not need them, but just having them along gives us a sense of security. On our spiritual journey, sometimes we like to keep our “just in case” baggage—anything that gives us security in something other than Christ. We need to simply follow Christ with empty luggage, trusting that He will supply all of our needs.
Although it is important that we do not carry excess baggage on this journey of life, we must also not carry excess weight. Years ago, my husband and I went to a nearby lake. My husband’s Uncle Steve had an inner tube that had a bottom, and he asked me if I wanted to ride it. Since the tube had a bottom, I didn’t think I would get wet, so I agreed, not realizing what was about to happen.
Well, as soon as I started to get in the tube, I flipped out of the boat and landed in the water with my denim skirt and jacket. Because of what I was wearing, I felt like I weighed five thousand pounds, making it a challenge for me to stay afloat. If I had been wearing something lighter, I am sure I would not have felt like I was drowning. Excessive weight is not something we should simply ignore.
The weight of sin hinders us, robbing our capability of serving. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” If we keep the weight of sin on our shoulders, we will slow down and become ineffective for the Lord. We need to remove any extra weight by confessing our sins and staying focused on the Lord.
Although journeys can be a challenge, eliminating things we simply do not need can save us so much heartache. Get rid of the excessive luggage and weight that is keeping you from honoring the Lord. Trust in Him completely, allowing Him to safely guide you on your journey. Confess any sin in your life that you are carrying. It will make the journey more enjoyable. When we finally arrive, the trials of this earth will seem so insignificant. This destination will make the journey completely worth it.