I’ve never been one to travel light.
I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. But ever since I stuck three fingers in the air and took the Boy Scout pledge to be prepared, I’ve been determined to be exactly that—prepared.
Prepared for a bar mitzvah, baby dedication, or costume party. Prepared to parachute behind enemy lines or enter a cricket tournament. And if, perchance, the Dalai Lama might be on my flight and invite me to dine in Tibet, I carry snowshoes. One has to be prepared.
I don’t know how to travel light.
Fact is, there’s a lot about travel I don’t know. I don’t know how to interpret the restrictions of a supersaver seat—half price if you leave on Wednesdays during duck-hunting season and return when the moon is full in a nonelection year. I don’t know why they don’t build the whole plane out of the same metal they use to build the little black box. I don’t know how to escape the airplane toilet without sacrificing one of my extrem-ities to the jaws of the folding door. And I don’t know what to say to guys like the taxi driver in Rio who learned I was an American and asked me if I knew his cousin Eddie who lives in the U.S.
There’s a lot about traveling I don’t know.
I don’t know why we men would rather floss a crocodile than ask for directions. I don’t know why vacation slides aren’t used to treat insomnia, and I don’t know when I’ll learn not to eat food whose names I can’t pro-nounce.
But most of all, I don’t know how to travel light.
I don’t know how to travel without granola bars, sodas, and rain gear. I don’t know how to travel without flashlights and a generator and a global tracking system. I don’t know how to travel without an ice chest of wieners. What if I stumble upon a backyard barbecue? To bring nothing to the party would be rude.
Every travel-catalog company in the world has my credit-card number. I’ve got an iron that doubles as a pa-perweight, a hair dryer the size of a coach’s whistle, a Swiss Army knife that expands into a pup tent, and a pair of pants that inflate upon impact. (On one flight my wife, Denalyn, gave me a swat on the leg, and I couldn’t get out of my seat.)
I don’t know how to travel light. But I need to learn. Denalyn refuses to give birth to any more children even though the airlines allow each passenger three checked bags and two carry-ons.
I need to learn to travel light.
You’re wondering why I can’t. Loosen up! you’re thinking. You can’t enjoy a journey carrying so much stuff. Why don’t you just drop all that luggage?
Funny you should ask. I’d like to inquire the same of you. Haven’t you been known to pick up a few bags?
Odds are, you did this morning. Somewhere between the first step on the floor and the last step out the door, you grabbed some luggage. You stepped over to the baggage carousel and loaded up. Don’t remember do-ing so? That’s because you did it without thinking. Don’t remember seeing a baggage terminal? That’s be-cause the carousel is not the one in the airport; it’s the one in the mind. And the bags we grab are not made of leather; they’re made of burdens.
The suitcase of guilt. A sack of discontent. You drape a duffel bag of weariness on one shoulder and a hang-ing bag of grief on the other. Add on a backpack of doubt, an overnight bag of loneliness, and a trunk of fear. Pretty soon you’re pulling more stuff than a skycap. No wonder you’re so tired at the end of the day. Lugging luggage is exhausting.
What you were saying to me, God is saying to you, “Set that stuff down! You’re carrying burdens you don’t need to bear.”
“Come to me,” he invites, “all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 NLT).
If we let him, God will lighten our loads … but how do we let him? May I invite an old friend to show us? The Twenty-third Psalm.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Max Lucado, Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear (Nashville: W Publish-ing Group, 2001), 4–6.
This article excerpted from Traveling Light.
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