The week before last, both of my girls went on a Student Life Worship trip to Daytona, Florida. Boy did they have fun, but it was obvious that God touched their hearts in special places and in special ways while they were there.
As funny reminder of the week, one of Morgans friends took a picture of her trying to close her suitcase the day they were leaving. Trust me – I would never have thought it would close, based on the bulging monstrosity of dirty, unfolded clothing and other items that she piled into that suitcase! The picture taking was consecutive, and each little step to zipping the suitcase was documented. Apparently, it was a serious workout, and a true feat to get it all stuffed in there! Had the zipper popped, an explosion of clothes and shoes would have flown everywhere!
I told her when she was packing before she left, that she was taking way too many clothes. She only needed clothes for 4 days, but had enough packed to wear clean clothes every day for three weeks in the event they got stranded on a deserted island on the way home. (The bad thing is, that I think she inherited that trait from me!)
For some strange reason, I was thinking about packing this morning. Maybe its because I just helped Morgan pack for cheerleading camp a few days ago; unpacked my suitcase from last weeks conference recently, and am planning what I am going to pack for the She Speaks conference this week. Or maybe it was because God pricked my heart this morning, and made me think about what I was going to pack emotionally and spiritually this week, and not just what was going in my suitcase.
This morning at church, the sermon was about the return of Jesus, and the pastor outlined several “marks” of a true Christian, as opposed to someone who just says they are a Christian or says they believe, but do not live a life that would be indicative of a believer.
As we all know, Galatians 5 outlines so many traits that we should strive to have as Christians, and ones that we have probably memorized – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are definitely things that we should “pack” into our heart each and every day, and although we will fail each day in different areas, we should always plan to pack them again tomorrow.
But some other things we need to pack into our lives and hearts, if we are truly committed to following Christ, are things that might be a little harder to get stuffed into our spiritual suitcases – like integrity, devotion to Jesus, morals, ethics, being God-centered, and practicing Gods truth in our every day life.
All of the things listed above are often hard to pack. It is hard to show love to someone, who doesnt return that love. Hard to have joy and peace when turmoil is pouring into our life. Hard to always be patient with our husband and children. Hard to be gentle when we get frustrated and discouraged. Hard to have self control and not be quick to anger, desire things we dont have, stay away from fattening snack foods, and refrain from watching tv shows or morives that lure us in with things that do not honor God, but seem entertaining.
Trying to pack all that purity into life can make us feel like we are going to explode at the seams! Sometimes it seems near to impossible to be the kind of person we know God wants us to be.
As I thought more about this packing concept, it seemed to me like the fruits of the spirit are actually a step ladder to accomplishing the outstanding “marks” of a Christian. We cant have strong integrity, morals and ethics, without patience, faithfulness and self-control. We cant be devoted to Jesus, without love, joy and peace in our hearts. We cant be God-centered, without being kind and good.
It seems as if there is a lot of stuff to pack doesnt it?! I guess when we fail at being the good Christian we desire to be, we could blame it on not having enough room in our spiritual suitcases to put all these necessities! But I dont think God would really buy that excuse do you? I doubt it. Smiles.
However, arent we so blessed that He has promised to renew our minds each day; to refresh our souls upon the asking; to provide peace and joy when we cant find them on our own; to forgive us when we fall short of packing those important fruits in our hearts; to grant us grace when we are tempted to violate our own integrity and morals because of a situation we find ourselves in; and to shower us with mercy when we fail to be patient, loving or faithful to Him. What an awesome God we serve.
I love the saying that says “today is the first day of the rest of your life”. Each day is a fresh start, a fresh morning, a fresh chance to be who God wants us to be. Each day is a journey that we get to experience, with all of its ups and downs. If you think about it, life is really a trip we set out to take every day, and each day we can decide exactly what to pack. And the good news is, that the more we can stuff in the better!
So give this some thought today – what spiritual items will you be packing for your trip with life this week? Is your suitcase overflowing, or is there room to pack a few more Godly essentials?