UN-PACKING FOR THE JOURNEY
The idea of un-packing to go on a trip just goes against all common sense. Whenever we have a trip to take we think about where we are going and how long we will be gone and then we pack accordingly. We have to have enough stuff to supply us for the trip … our toothbrush, clean socks, and for some that includes at least half of their wardrobe. We look at all our suitcases and bags and then stare at our car trunk and try to pack it with all the skill needed to solve a tetris puzzle. Then we get souvenirs and other stuff and usually come back home with more stuff than we left with. We can so easily spend a lifetime packing more and more into our lives.
Astonishingly, our journey in the Lord is the exact opposite. The more we journey in our experience with him, the more stuff gets unpacked. Now it’s not always physical things (though it can be), but it’s those things that are not physically tangible that weigh us down. It’s wrong mindsets and beliefs that are not inline with the work of the cross and the grace of God, it’s hurts and pains and scars, it’s our own self-centered dreams and desires – it’s simply anything that is outside of Jesus and His purpose and desire for us which is born out of unconditional love and was totally accomplished through His redemptive work.
Now I believe we need to clarify here that it is never the Lord’s desire for us to get focused on the unpacking. Legalism and religion always have us focused on ourselves. We are not talking about some futile attempt to “fix” ourselves through some sort of religious self-help. The unpacking done in this journey is not the focus, but the result of the real focus – Jesus!
“… putting off every weight, and the sin into which we come so readily, let us keep on running in the way which is marked out for us, having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2 [Bible in Basic English]
When we focus on Jesus, trusting Him, then the weights and the sin (which in the context of Hebrews is primarily unbelief) are put off, they are unpacked. 1 Peter 5:7 says we cast (unpack) our care; anxiety on Him, because He cares for us. It’s in light of who Jesus is are they cast off. He is always to be our focus! He is always to be the source and object of our faith.
We have already been given all things that pertain to life and godliness, we have already been made a new creation in Christ, we have already been forgiven and justified by His blood. Through faith in Jesus this is all our reality now. But for me to experience more of who He is I need to forget the past (unpack) and press on. I must see that He carried my hurts and pains to the cross (unpack) and see myself whole in Him. I must forgive others (unpack) as He has forgiven me. I must put no confidence in the flesh (unpack) and trust that He in fact is my very life.
The deeper our experience of God’s love and realizing Jesus is our life, the less we trust in external things. We can’t put our confidence in our abilities, our relationships, our careers, what others may or may not think about us – it’s Jesus alone that defines us. We are not here to make a name for ourselves and protect and preserve our own reputation. Sometimes, the very thing we have convinced ourselves we must have for the journey is the very thing that has become a hindrance to us experiencing and sharing a deeper reality of Jesus. In light of the cross and the love of Jesus, the more baggage we will see fall from us – baggage that we once felt we couldn’t live without.
So if you are headed out on a trip or vacation soon, pack up what you need and by all means … don’t forget your toothbrush. But as we journey in our relationship in Jesus, may we ever be embracing Him more and seeing unpacked all those things that have simply become false securities and weights in our lives. We are learning to live light! It’s Jesus’ desire for us to do as one wise man so often encouraged, … “Enjoy the journey!”
Love in Jesus,
Pastor David Hughes