Saturday, June 25, 2011

Luggage Advice?

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  ~ Matthew 10: 7-13

I remember the first time I packed to go live overseas. I was moving to Slovakia for a semester. As I was packing I carefully wrote out a list of every item that was in my suitcase and my hand luggage. I think I made 3 copies of that list. One was in my suitcase, one was in my hand luggage and one was given to my parents (I'm not sure why!). Every sock, every book was carefully catalogued in case of misfortune.

I'm one of those people who have a tendency to over pack for a trip. I want to make sure I have what I need to cover every eventuality, which is of course, impossible. I also find comfort in surrounding myself with familiar items when I am in a different country. When everything around is strange, my need for security increases.

Jesus' instructions here scare me.

No money, no spare clothing,  no staff for protection.

When I think of my journey through life in the light of this command I reflect on the 'baggage' I carry. The money makes me think about the achievements I have earned - the things I use to bolster myself when I feel nervous, 'Remember Peter, you have a University degree, you can do this!'.

Clothing makes me think of the roles that I step into. The different ways I present myself to other people depending on who they are and the response I want to elicit from them.  I notice it when someone asks me 'What do you do for a living?' My response varies according to the situation. 'I work for a church.' or 'I'm a musician.' Sometimes I'll be even more mysterious in my response 'I'm a composer' or 'I help people encounter God'.  Each of these are true to varying degrees and generate very different responses. Each of them also minimizes what I do. I am more than the various roles I place myself in.

The command I struggle the most to identify with is the one to not take a staff. People used the staff to help them in their journey and to protect them.  I wonder what I use to help my journey and to protect me? I know that I sometimes use humor as a way of deflecting situations where I feel uncomfortable. Humor can become a way for me to avoid emotions I don't like. I may think I am protecting myself, but I am also in danger of avoiding the very thing that may lead to growth.

What baggage are you carrying with you to ease your walk through life?

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