Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a friend who, in mid-career, was called into the ministry. In fact, God ultimately led him overseas. At that point he found it necessary to move all his family and as many of their possessions as possible beyond these shores, all the way to the island of Okinawa. He said, "We put all of our possessions that were a part of our trip into our station wagon. We packed that car all the way to the top of the windows."
While driving to the place where they would meet the ship that would take them to the Orient, they stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. While they were inside the restaurant, a thief broke into their station wagon and took everything except the car. "The only thing we had," he said, "were the articles of clothing on our backs. Our hearts sank to the bottom!" When asked about it later, he said, "Well, I had to face the fact that I was holding really tight to the things in that car. And the Lord simply turned my hands over and gave them a slap...and out came everything that was in that car. And it all became a part of the Father's possession."
I heard some great advice from someone who has been on lots of trips overseas for mission projects: Pack what you think you’ll need and then take half of it out of your suitcase.
A SIMPLE ATTITUDE TOWARD POSSESSIONS—DON’T LET “STUFF” SLOW YOU DOWN
Notice the packing instructions of Jesus in Luke 9. He not only told His disciples to pack light for their mission, He told them not to pack anything at all! "Take nothing for the journey--no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3).
Jesus was teaching his disciples to trust Him more than their own resources. Since they couldn’t take money, they would have to depend on His Word that strangers would show them hospitality. Since they couldn’t take food, they would have to really pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Since they couldn’t even take a walking stick, they would have to depend on Jesus for their strength on the long journey. Jesus sent them into an environment of need requiring both faith and obedience. God is looking for people of faith. It’s like He is asking: “How much do you trust me?”
How different that is from most of us. We pack our suitcases to overflowing because we like having our precious “stuff” with us. But when we are loaded down with our own stuff, we often depend on our possessions rather than on God. I must ask myself, “Am I trusting God to provide my needs, or am I trusting my job, my bank balance, or my retirement account to meet my needs?” Jesus issues a strong warning in Luke 16:13: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Living a life of simplicity demands we love God rather than possessions.
Jesus did not preach the American dream. He did not preach prosperity and success. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. And He said His kingdom is not of this world.
If we are supposed to pack light, who is going to take care of us? God will. How will He do it? Look again at the words of Jesus, "Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.” He knew in every village there were people who would respond to their message of the Kingdom. Jesus required His disciples to depend on the generosity and hospitality of these people.
Do you need to unpack your suitcase a little bit? You say, “What am I going to do with all my stuff?” Why don’t you become like the people Jesus said would freely help His disciples in need? In other words, find a disciple of Jesus who has a need and give some of your stuff to them. Lighten your load and see if you don’t enjoy the journey a little more.(This post is the fourth in a series called SIMPLIFY. The other posts are: A Simple Authority for Our Mission and A Simple Approach to Ministry. Some of the ideas I’m sharing in this series came from a message called “Packing Light for the Journey of Life” by Pastor David Dykes in Texas.).