One thing that’s been on my mind lately has been TRAVEL. Maybe it’s because I’m going home for Fall Break at the end of August. Maybe it’s because a friend just sent me a letter that detailed her upcoming walking-trip around the US. Maybe it’s because my soul has never ceased to crave adventure. But it’s been on my mind nonetheless. Travels and excursions and journeys. Whoop whoop!
CS Lewis has something to say about journeys also. His book, “The Great Divorce” is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s the story of a bus that goes from hell to heaven and the passengers’ choices on whether to stay in heaven or go back to hell. It’s almost like a modern day Pilgrims Progress. What Lewis wrote at the beginning of the book took my desire for adventure and turned it inward. “You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys; on one journey even your right hand and your right eye may be among the things you have to leave behind.”
Right hand and right eye.. While I write this, an image of walking through airport ecurity is in my head. My parents watching as I go through security, and some TSA agent is telling me that I, in fact, cannot bring an entire tube of toothpaste on the plane with me. He politely, yet sternly, asks me to abandon my toiletry and go on with my travels. I do, and by time my plane ride is over I’ve already forgotten about my toothpaste troubles. But what about my right hand and my right eye? Surely this is alluding to when Jesus says that if your right hand or right eye causes you to sin, to rid yourself of them. Without my right hand and eye, I would be an invalid. They are both so necessary! To cut them off, or as Lewis puts it, to be asked to leave them behind, seems absurd to me. To willingly turn myself into an invalid. But why? What could make someone want to do that?
The answer to that question came to me in the form of a new pocket-sized Amplified Bible that my dad sent me for my birthday. The great apostle Paul seemed to know exactly what I would be thinking while he wrote his letters. Most the time I have a question or struggle, it’s generally Paul that helps. He did it again. He writes to the Philippians about his great joy and in the fourth chapter begins to talk about all of his great qualifications and achievements: circumcised on the eighth day, an Israelite, a Benjamite, the son of Hebrews, a Pharisee, blameless in regard to the Law and an overly zealous persecutor of the church. “But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as one combined loss for Christ’s sake. Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared the possession of the priceless privilege, the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth and the surpreme advantage or knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. For His sake I HAVE LOST EVERYTHING and consider it all to be MERE RUBBISH in order that I may gain Christ, the Anointed One.” [Phil. 4:7-8, Amplified Bible]
Paul seems pretty clear here. He gave up everything for the sake of Christ. I didn’t know Paul personally, but I’m pretty certain that if something was causing him to sin, even if it was his right hand or right eye, he would have found a way to abandon it. Anything that was in his life, he was prepared to give it up if it meant he would know Christ better.
What are those things in our lives that we are being asked to leave behind? It seems that in Mission Year, there is a new thing every week that I’m being asked to leave behind. Pack lighter, pack lighter! Its so easy to [figurately] spend way too much time arguing with a TSA agent about the necessity of toothpaste on the airplane rather than just getting on with our travels and being on our way; certain of the fact that where we are going there is certainly toothpaste there. I spend a lot of my time holding onto toxic things instead of realizing that my needs are met in Christ. Anything I’m being asked to give up will be waiting for me in heaven, ten times better than anything I could have held onto here on earth.
While my desire to be on an adventure hasn’t been sated, it has put a deeper meaning on road trips and plane rides home...