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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lessons from Excess Baggage

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Mark 1:16-18).

A few months back, I began dreaming of traveling the world. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I fantasized about packing all I owned into a bag and working from my computer as I set out on a global exploration. I wanted a new adventure.

Eventually, my material possessions grew burdensome. They felt like so many ropes tying me down. The idea of dragging all that stuff to wherever I would move next made me shudder. I started reading blogs about minimalism, simple living, and how to pack for round-the-world trips.

So my housemates and I had a garage sale. I put more items in the sale than anyone else, but even when we bagged up the leftovers to be donated, I realized there was still more that I could live without. I went through my wardrobe piece by piece, setting aside anything I could bear letting go. “What if I need it?” became the most hindering question. But the more I chose to let go, the easier it was to do. I learned to tell myself, “It’s nice to have, but I won’t miss it.” Now my closet is nearing empty, all my kitchen supplies are bequeathed to my housemates, and my furniture has been divided among several college students.

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The donation pile at my house continues to grow.

Instead of experiencing loss, I’m relishing the freedom. It feels liberating. Simply letting go can sometimes be a healthier choice than hanging on. I’ve found this to be true with my material belongings as well as with my relationships.

Recently God told me it was time to let go of a relationship I had wished would change. I had invested myself in hope so much that I couldn’t imagine ever moving on. God said I needed to give up the relationship to his control. At first my instinct was to cling even tighter. It felt like to let go would mean losing something I never had anyway.

But God didn’t see it that way. He wanted me to let go so I could gain, not lose. When I finally did give in, God took care of the hopes and feelings I thought would never leave. He freed me.

Ridding myself of material baggage has made it easier for me to begin my next adventure, and in the same way, losing emotional baggage unburdens me so I can gain new relationships God is preparing for me.

A season of my life is ending so that a new one can begin.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him (Mark 1:19-20).

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The One Who is Faithful

Credit: Dewayne Neeley, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/j1XaUb)

Credit: Dewayne Neeley, Creative Commons (https://flic.kr/p/j1XaUb)

“What has God taught you recently?”

The man paused for a deep sigh. He leaned forward on the couch and clasped his hands in front of him.

“He has told me he is faithful. If you want to learn something, know God is faithful.”

I nodded in agreement. My own experiences have taught me the same lesson.

But besides loving Jesus, I had little else in common with the man in front of me. Emmanuel is the director of a ministry that serves rural villages in Ghana. He grew up there, and now his children are my age. Through slow but articulate English, he shared how God has remained faithful throughout his life.

Emmanuel began ministry work in 1989. He chose to serve the Lord while other Africans he knew wanted to earn “a good life for themselves.” He made the foolish decision in the eyes of the world, as the apostle Paul would say (1 Cor. 1:23). Yet while others struggled to have a good life, God was faithful to Emmanuel.

Of his four children, two have graduated from college, one is currently in college, and the youngest will soon enroll (by God’s grace). Emmanuel’s siblings cannot say the same for their own children. As a ministry leader, Emmanuel has been invited to many countries, including America, Canada, and Japan. He knows some people who traveled to America for a better life and, in 10 years, have not seen as much of the country as he has. “How many of them have stayed in a five-star hotel?” he asked with a laugh, adding, “And they have not been able to go home since coming here.” He described never having to buy his own food while traveling because people invite him to meals in their own homes. Next week, he will attend a pastors’ conference and will meet several well-known Christian leaders.

His face shone with gratefulness and awe for his good life. Emmanuel chose to serve the Lord, and God has been faithful to care for Emmanuel.

In my own life, God’s faithfulness has been a recurring theme, especially in the last seven months since losing my first full-time job. At church last Sunday, we sang a hymn I can’t even remember except that it had a line about God being faithful. I almost cried, thinking on how true his faithfulness has been for me. Even when I have lost my way, even when I have been weak, God never left me.

Instead, he said, “Oh, dear child, trust me. When you don’t know the way, let me guide you each step. When you don’t have the strength, let me carry you each day.”

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized