THOUGH I HAVE spent a fair amount of time on the road and in the air through the years, I have never quite gotten the hang of traveling light. I quietly envy those who turn up at the departure gate with nothing in their hands but a paperback and boarding pass, but I am more careful than carefree.
In addition to my laptop and paper files I may need to work on, I have spare underwear and a fresh shirt in case there’s an unexpected delay, a toothbrush, and a bag of little freshen-up things. Then there’s several magazines I haven’t gotten around to reading at home, and at least four books.
Let’s not forget the electronics, either. Phone, of course, and a back-up battery just in case. Also have to have the tablet, should I want to look at some digital magazines. And my Kindle with a few hundred back-up titles, as a precaution. That all requires a zip-bag of various cables and connectors, of course.
All of which would have disqualified me from the disciples’ first ministry trip, recorded in Luke 12. Having given them power over evils spirits and authority to heal, Jesus sent them out to proclaim the kingdom…with no carry-ons.
“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics,” He instructed (verse 3).
Yikes! Seriously? But what if…?
Jesus wanted them to launch out totally dependent, knowing that they were not in control.
He had the same approach with the rich young ruler in Mark 10. When Jesus told him that to inherit eternal life he had to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, the man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (verse 22).
But think about that for a moment. What were those great possessions? Life was pretty basic back then, even for the wealthy. He probably had nicer clothes than most, and a better home, and he didn’t have to worry about where his next meal was coming from.
But he didn’t have a car, or golf clubs, or a rare stamp collection, or a high-end stereo system, or a wine of the month subscription, or a spa membership. He probably didn’t have a lot of material things to divest himself of, not like we do today.
If it was hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God back then, as Jesus remarked (Mark 10:23), how much more so for us today with all our “stuff.”
The rich young man may not have been as materially entangled as we are today, but his wealth did give him status and security—a sense of being and a sense of being in control. People knew he was someone, and he could afford to pay someone to meet any of his needs.
So maybe things are not so different for us today. Most of us like comfort and control. But, like the rich young ruler, Jesus wants us to be prepared to let go of who we like to be known as and what we think we need, to travel light. Out of our comfort zones with no carry-on.
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