The end of July was an unexpectedly crazy time for our family.
Because of Covid19, our children’s wedding dates had begun to slide all over the place until our daughter and our son’s weddings nearly collided, finally landing eight days (and eight time zones!) apart.
So, five days after celebrating my daughter’s day with our families, I found myself on an empty plane crossing the Atlantic with a facemask and feet still sore from my impractical shoe choice days before.
When I arrived in California the usual customs and immigration set up was even more thorough than usual. My passport was checked several times and so was my temperature. When I finally arrived at customs the airport arrival area was within view. I was tired and frazzled and not at my best when I was asked if I had any fruit and vegetables in my bag. No. Any meat products? No. (Who brings meat products in their bags? I wondered, picturing pork chops.) However, as the agent leaned towards my bag I had an awful realization. I remebered that I had some salami in my handbag.
What had seemed like a clever low-carb snack for my trip, suddenly became illegal contraband in violation of US import legislation.
In my jetlagged fog I found the whole situation rather funny. Typically the agent did not. He confiscated the pesky meat snack and warned of fines if I broke the rules again. As I walked away I remembered with horror that I had more in my suitcase I had forgotten to mention! All I could think to do was quickly walk away and eat it in the car.
It is a funny story but there is a point.
We should know what is in our bag because sometimes there are things that need to be left behind.
God is always doing new things in our lives, moving us on. 2 Corinthians 3.18 calls it glory to glory. He is changing us; He is making us more like Jesus. We are on a glorious journey with the Good Shepherd of our souls that takes us over mountains and through deep valleys and around strange corners, every step moving us closer to who we are created to be.
My favorite passage of scripture, Psalm 84, calls this process of pilgrimage, strength to strength. Disapointments and difficulties are no match for a heart set on a divine destination. Experiences along the way, both good and bad, are all used for our good and for God’s glory.
And all the while the Spirit works gently, encouraging us to shed what isn’t needed anymore, to travel lighter and lighter.
New seasons have new challenges.
New wine needs new wineskins. (Matthew 9.17)
Ground that has been neglected needs to be prepared for planting. (Hosea 10.12)
In the well-known passage in Ecclesiastes we see that life has different seasons. There are times of planting and times of weeding, times of celebration and of mourning, times of building and times of tearing down.
And these different seasons of our lives need very different mindsets.
New challenges require new packing lists.
Perhaps you sense that God is leading you into a time of rest after a time of kingdom busyness. Maybe you have experienced a long season of waiting and now feel it is time to obediently act. Perhaps you feel God leading you back into ministry after years of focusing on family life, or vice versa. Maybe you sense God drawing you to sit at His feet and just listen with no agenda. Or you know it is time to step out onto new territory with new opportunites for God’s kingdom to advance.
Whatever it is, there may be things that have served you well in a previous season that it is now time to let go of. Commitments that were right for a time may need to be reconsidered. You may need to rethink how you are using your time and resources. Schedules and well-worn routines may need to be reimagined in light of new priorities.
This is a precarious time. It can feel uncomfortable and confusing, daunting and dangerous. You haven’t been this way before. But don’t be afraid. This is the time to dig deep in God’s Word; The Bible is our compass in unchartered waters. Take one step at a time. Make faith your default position. Let go and move on. Be radically obedient, full of love and covered in humility.
Decide that anything you have to leave behind is worth it if it means you can know God better and love others more deeply and fulfill every drop of your destiny in Jesus.
‘And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-travelled, these roads curve up the mountain, at at the last turn – Zion! God in full view!’ Psalm 84.5-7.