Bags Packed and Ready to Go, by Susan Nash

“Have you packed?” This inevitable question seems to raise my anxiety level
each time I am leaving on a trip, The anxiety comes from my last minute packing (which
has improved) and the fact that my success rate in packing everything I need is not
high. I am always curious as to what I have forgotten and surprised by items I included.
The new regulations about liquids in certain size bags, size of carry-on, and paying to
check bags have only heightened my awareness of what is in my bag.

I took my first flight at two weeks old. The thrill started then and has never
ended. I love new places, new people, new histories, new cultures to explore and learn.
Travel is in my life to stay and so is packing. I have had to get more intentional about
what I am taking and what I am leaving behind.

I have found this same thing true in my life. Our lives are actually the most
significant and adventurous journey we will ever take. “Have we packed well?” If we
belong to Jesus and are headed home, we must get much more intentional about what
we are taking and what we are leaving behind. We can only handle so much baggage.

Two things that have been packed in my bag almost my entire life are guilt and
shame. The fact that I was a Christian leader and teacher with theological training did
not automatically ensure the exclusion of these items from the bag I was carrying with
me everywhere. Knowing the Greek and Hebrew words, passionately teaching the truth
of the atonement, and deeply believing it did not take away the anxiety of packing and
the cost of “checking” the bag. I could not get what was in my head to stay in my heart.
The weight became an enormous hindrance and the cost more than I could bear.

I found this to be true of many other Christian travelers. We thought we packed
forgiveness and freedom, but inevitably discovered guilt and shame instead. The
journey was on, but made more taxing because of the unintentional glitch.

My “plane crashing” is what finally caused me to learn to pack very intentionally.
I experienced ministry burnout, which is really a spiritual sickness that shuts down
all systems. Under God’s patient care, as I learned let go of my pride and my
accomplishments, I began to unpack the guilt and shame--literally. I had to be brought
to understand the reasons I continued to pack them inadvertently instead of forgiveness
and freedom. A cognitive commitment to the gospel was no good until the gospel
became the conscious core of my very being. I had to give up packing the thoughts
that had become an automatic grid through which to view and respond to life. I had
to leave them at the foot of the cross where they belonged. My crash had begun a
transformation.

So, what’s in your bag? Are you packed and ready for the journey?