Now that’s a real incentive to travel!
The truth is I never went much of anywhere except maybe to North and South Carolina, at least not until I got married.
A couple of years into our marriage David took a job with a company that rewarded production with fabulous trips. One of our very first trips was to Hong Kong. I think I was maybe twenty-eight at the time.
I’ve never been much of a geography buff so I wasn’t even quite sure where Hong Kong was except that it was far away. I had to go to my parent’s house to look at their globe to see where it was. Remember those big globes we use to have in school? Do they still even have them?
Where was Google Maps when I needed it?
I saw that Hong Kong was clear on the other side of the world from Florida but it appeared to be only inches away from Tokyo. Knowing we had a lay-over there, I felt I had some perspective on distances. Poor little naive me !
After traveling with no sleep for about twenty or so hours it was pretty discouraging to find out Tokyo was not as close as it looked on the big world globe. It was another 5 hour flight. Ugh!
Upon arrival I was met with the stark reality that nobody has fresh breath after twenty-four hours on a plane. This is where I first came to the realization that I needed more than clean underwear in my overnight bag. I think the moment we landed I would have gladly traded my clean undies for a toothbrush and toothpaste!
We’ve traveled a whole lot since then. Today I am a preparedness nerd -or maybe just a little neurotic. However, I prefer the word nerd over neurotic.
I carry in my overnight duffel what I call my emergency bag. It’s a first-aid kit of sorts. In it I carry everything I could, might, possibly, probably, need sometime now or in the near future.
I carry everything I might need if I were ever to have that uncomfortable feeling in my gut. You know, the one you get because you’ve had a sudden change in eating habits? I have a whole section in my bag for that! Zantac for when I eat too late. Gas-X for when I eat too much. Ducolax stool softener for…well…you know, I don’t have to tell you what that’s for. Hey, but that alone can make a difference in your trip!
I have pseudoephedrine for a stuffy nose, an antihistamine for a runny one. I carry Tylenol, Advil and a round antibiotics for good measure. At the risk of being judged I’ll stop my list right there.
Of course I don’t always need all these items on a trip but if something does go amiss I’m glad I’m prepared.
Life is like a trip – a journey and it’s the longest one we’ll ever take. On our way we are sure to run into some detours that will take us off course and run over potholes they’ll knock the wind right out of us; job losses, cancer, death, disabilities, betrayal, debilitating pain, addiction, depression, sexual abuse, disastrous marriages… the laundry list can go on into infinity.
But the good news is this – just as we can learn what to pack to prepare for the unexpected on a family trip we can also learn what to pack to prepare for the unexpected in life.
If your’re packing light then you’re packing right.
What I mean by packing light is packing Jesus. That’s all you need. Trust Jesus enough to lay your burdens on Him. “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” ( Matthew 11:30)
A close relationship with Jesus is the only substantial anchor to ground us in an unexpected storm.
But trusting Him is by choice. I’m not going to trust someone I don’t know. It’s is all about relationship. We develop relationships with time and intimacy.
You may think this sounds trite but keep reading.
Years ago I took a study on the life and letters of the Apostle Paul. During that time I fell in love with Paul, falling in love with Jesus. It was a beautiful thing to uncover.
That’s when I really got it – what it looked like to have a full trust relationship with Jesus .
After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus his life purpose dramatically changed from Christian persecutor to gospel evangelist. He was now to serve the very ones he had persecuted. After his conversion he spent at least three years in Arabian desert alone with God, and the ancient scriptures, studying and praying.
Think about that. Alone. With God. For three years. Time to develop intimacy. Time to develop trust. Time well spent.
Afterwards He went to Jerusalem to meet the other disciples and start the ministry he was appointed.
Although Paul is the one who was shipwrecked three times, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, spent a night and a day a drift on the open sea, bitten by a poisonous snake, and imprisoned multiple times, he was the same man who wrote the words,” Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. 1 Thess.5:16-18. He also wrote, ” Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think on these things.”
He underwent more trials in the second half of his life than most of us will see in a lifetime. Yet He remained content in all circumstances.
How was Paul able to do that? Relationship, relationship, relationship.
Paul no longer conformed himself to the pattern of this world (negative thinking) he was transformed by the renewing of his mind. Romans 12:2
His mind was forever changed by his relationship with The Unchangeable.
Wherever Paul went he packed right because he packed light.
He packed Jesus.
We can too. It’s all about relationship. And the Great Unchangeable wants one with us.
I can be the preparedness-nerd with my creams and lotions, concoctions and potions and they’ll do for a day or two. They’re good in my overnight bag for an overnight trip. But they all have an expiration date. For this marathon journey called life, I need something with no expiration date.
So if I want to be joyful in all circumstance and have the ability to push through, I need to pack light.
I need to pack Jesus.