With three weeks to go till departure, I am packing and sorting the items that will fit into our four suitcases. If you looked at my piles, you wouldn’t be surprised at the clothes and books. But you might wonder about some of the other things. Why do we have several large, sturdy toys? (By faith we hope to have small children in our church plant.) What about the 100 small gift items from the dollar store? (To shower the ladies in our churches with treats and favors at upcoming retreats.) Then there’s one can of black olives and one can of cranberry sauce because I can’t “do” Thanksgiving without them. You’d be amazed at what your missionary considers a priority in their limited luggage space.
Years ago, when we were preparing for missionary service, a friend asked if I had any broken or hurtful relationships. When I expressed my surprise at his inquiry, he replied that no amount of distance would be able to separate me from unresolved hurts. He urged me to do whatever was necessary to forgive and be reconciled and to leave that “excess baggage” behind me. It was the best advice I’ve ever gotten. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Yet, as I struggled in prayer, the Lord helped me to give Him all the pain I’d been hiding in my heart and to let Him lift the burden of misery that I was lugging around.
“Lugging” and “luggage” come from the same word meaning “to carry with effort”. Praise the Lord that He lifts our burdens and that I was able to go to Brazil with a heart set free.