"Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics." (Mark 6:6b-9)
When you go on a trip, regardless of the distance or the amount of time you will be gone, what type of packer are you? Are you an over-packer -- one who packs everything so that suitcases are overpacked and heavy? Or, perhaps you're an under-packer: packing essentially necessary items, needing to buy once arriving at your final destination?
Years and years ago for a family vacation, my parents did their best to instill in me the lesson "pack only what you can carry." Where they meant in one trip to the car and to our final destination, my child's mind heard it differently. Stacked by the bedroom door was a pile of items I wanted to take with me -- in multiple trips. Somehow, all the items made it into the back seat of the family car for that trip, into our final destination, and back home. I'm not sure how, but I do remember it being rather cramped in the back seat.
The disciples were a different bunch of packers: they were extremely extra light weight packers. No extra tunics, no extra money, not even extra food. The only items they were to take with them was a staff (think walking pole/stick) and their faith. They were to rely on the generosity and kindness of those who heard the gospel.
"Take only what you can carry." How often we go through life taking extra weight with us, whether the weight be from emotional, financial, personal, physical, social, or spiritual hurts and wounds. Walking through life with the weight of the world on our shoulders leaves little room for delight and enjoyment of others in our life, or the world around us.
"Take only what you can carry." I think of those from the Surfside Condo in Miami, Florida, forced to evacuate before the remainder of the building was demolished. Knowing there would never be another return, residents were forced to make difficult decisions of what to take, what to leave behind.
I think of those who left areas to avoid being in the path of Tropical Storm Elsa, and those who have left everything behind in order to find a new life here in the United States, and those who continue to leave everything for new life.
I think of the pilgrims, the immigrants, the settlers of American history, named and unnamed, famous, and infamous, who came searching for religious freedom, the search for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The difficult task of travelling across an uncharted country with unknown challenges: "take only what you can carry." -- possessions sold off to finance crossing oceans; or traded once arriving for food or other necessary supplies.
And I think, too of the Israelites fleeing from Egypt (okay, that might have been a little more than what they could possibly carry, but they were doing what had been told of them to do.), or Elijah fearing for his life, and going into the wilderness: a place of either running away from God or finding God; and Mary and Joseph travelling to Egypt, taking the infant Jesus with them. "Take only what you can carry" takes on new and different meaning.
Wherever you travel to, wherever you visit, whatever you pack -- remember to take your faith with you. It doesn't take much space, and can withstand multiple adventures, challenges, and opportunities. The best part? As it is shared, it grows, and still doesn't take much space.
Take only what you can carry -- take your faith with you in all things. You'll be amazed!
Pastor Traci Glover