We get that advice everywhere, and not only for vacations. Did you ever try it? It's not easy.
Even Jesus gave that advice to His apostles:
These were His instructions: Take nothing for the journey except a staff. No bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals, but not an extra shirt. --Mark 6:8,9
Now that's something to think about.
Nothing to eat. Nothing to wear. Nothing to spend to get either of them.
Why would He tell them to do such a thing?
Not because they wouldn't need them. They would. They would need to eat and find a place to sleep and, eventually, change their clothes.
Maybe He told them not to pack anything because the things they brought would hinder them.
No baggage, He told them. You may bring no baggage.
Not even a carry-on.
They were going out on their life's journey, accomplishing the task Jesus set them to do.
Well, I'm doing that, too, aren't I?
Maybe I don't get to pack anything for the trip, either.
And I thought I was doing pretty good, limiting myself to a single carry-on for a vacation, one junk drawer, a half a clothes closet. Guess not.
Take nothing for the journey, Jesus says. It's only stuff.
That's true, but I don't think He's talking only about stuff. I think He's talking about other baggage--the crippling guilt from my past, a sad longing for childhood or where I used to live, a petrifying desire to regain what God has clearly removed--situations, friendships, jobs, even loved ones.
Leave them behind, He says. You'll be OK. Honest.
Let the dead bury the dead--Luke 9:60
See, I am doing a new thing--Isaiah 43:19
Don't worry about anything--Philippians 4:6
Consider the lilies...--Luke 12:27
So what do I need?--a staff and sandals. What does that mean today?
It means, I think, the stuff, both interior and exterior, that facilitates my walk.
It's not another pair of shoes or another book or even another Bible study or community event--it's what I get today that helps me gain a firm hold on Christ right now.
Christ has appointed a way for every one of us. What are our own staff and sandals? What brings us closer to our goal?
We need to figure this out, because we're not supposed to take anything else.
For one of my friends, her day care business is her staff and sandals. That is what takes her before the Lord, both physically and spiritually. Through that, she not only ministers, but is ministered to. Not only children, but entire families, see God's light through her.
Another of my friends, a widow, is putting on her staff and sandals by selling her house and moving closer to her grandchildren. There, she will finish the work Christ has so evidently begun in her as a helper, a mentor, and a companion, but also provide a platform from which she is loved.
Both of these women are leaving behind the freedom that comes with maturity and investing where God has pointed them. Both are leaving behind lots of easier choices, opening themselves up to a life over which they have less control, not more. In short, they are dropping what supports an old world, leaving each known thing behind and picking up an unknown. They are emptying their bags of stuff, both physical and emotional, and in the process, I watch them both being changed and changing the world around them.
And, in the process, what they get is Christ.
Leave it all behind, He says, and you'll still have me.
Leave it all behind. Eventually, you won't even miss it.
I am a light burden. You can carry me in your heart.