Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Lesson from back packing?


For the 14 July 2013 bulletin

A Lesson from back packing?

I came across this interesting illustration recently which pulled together a lot of my stray thoughts over the last few days. First the illustration... 

 Backpacking has taught me the value of traveling light. One seasoned hiker explained it this way. Prepare for a hike by making three piles. The first pile should contain only those things you absolutely cannot live without. In the second pile put the things you would like to have but don't have to have. Then in the third pile, put all those things that would make life on the trail a lot more comfortable but which you could get along without. This is where you put the light weight hammock, the camp chair, and your extra clean clothes. Now, discard everything that is in piles two and three, pick up the first pile and head for the woods. That is what Jesus is advising his disciples to do in today's lesson (i.e. Luke 10). Travel light. Don't get bogged down with too many things. (N. Fred Jordan, Jr.)

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. (Luke 10:2-4) – do read the full context though.

While I am certainly not a backpacker, I would certainly qualify (as do all of us) as a traveller simply because the world we live in is transient. As the line from the old song goes “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”

There was Raymond’s sharing on Sunday during communion that made me think afresh on the frailty of life and our purpose here on earth. Then, dinner and then conversation with an old friend (one of my ex youth) which brought back memories of how she close she was to dying of serious blood loss right in front of me (“freak” accident) and the amazing series of back to back “coincidences” that prevented that.

Then there were many conversations with people who happened to be cleaning up their rooms or homes because of clutter or downsizing. And in the process, they discover huge amounts of items that are good and nice, but ultimately unnecessary and unused.

Then a picture on someone’s Facebook status that was divided into four quadrants columns comparing the rich and the poor. Top left a beautiful house (rich), top right a shack (poor). And bottom left, a hole in the ground (a grave for the rich), and bottom right, the same picture. The point being that both the rich and poor will share the same fate one day – death.

There is nothing inherently wrong with having “stuff” as long as they do not distract us from remembering our true purpose on this earth (living for the glory of God). I am reminded of an old story I read years ago of a man showing off all his many and wonderful possessions, his latest acquisitions etc. to his new neighbour (a Quaker Christian). After politely listening, the Quaker smiled and replied something to the effect of If you ever want to know how to be truly happy without all these things, call me and I will be happy to share with you.”


Let us beware lest our possessions that are meant to be a blessing become a distraction.