For many people Christmas has come and gone. There are some people however that will have their family Christmas around New Years. Our family is in the latter category. I will be flying out midweek to Colorado for a few days of vacation to have Christmas and see the family. Since it’s such a short time, I’ll be flying instead of driving. As I’m deciding what to pack, I realize that I can travel light, since I won’t be gone long. Now, normally I travel light to begin with. I’m not one of those people who need two pieces of luggage to check in, and another as my carry on. Normally I can get by with one carry on, and one checked bag. But this time I’m traveling with even less. Traveling light got me thinking about a book by the same title, “Traveling Light” by Max Lucado. I’ve read it numerous times, and I just finished it in two sittings. Since we are on the brink of a new year, it got me thinking of how I can travel light in 2011.
The book is based on the 23rd Psalm, and its premise is that we all have baggage that we carry with us that was never meant for us to deal with. We chuckle or we smile when we see someone in the airport struggling with trying to carry four or five bags, and we realize that if he would ask an attendant for help the burden would be lessened. Yet in the Psalm, David points out that we have many burdens that we should not be trying to carry. In Max’s book, there are seventeen bags of burdens he makes mention of, but I’ll only touch on a few here. To contemplate the rest, you’ll have to read the book and the Psalm.
The first burden shows up right away in verse one. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” We carry around the baggage of a lesser God, when all we need is right there in verse one. The rest of the Psalm tells us what the Lord wants to do for us if we don’t settle for a lesser God. I believe David wrote this Psalm to remind us of who God is and to build our trust in Him. What kind of God have we manufactured in our mind? Is He a genie in a bottle, or is He a grandfather, or is He a busy dad? In Psalm 23, David uses the term “Yahweh”, because that IS his name. In other words He is “I am”. God needs no descriptive word because he never changes. God is what He is. He is what He has always been. Yahweh is an unchanging God. He is also ungoverned. You and I are governed. The weather determines what we wear. Gravity dictates our speed, and health determines our strength. We may challenge these forces and alter them slightly, but we never remove them. Just as a piano has a middle C, and a tuning fork plays a middle C, we need a middle C in our life. Relationships change. Health changes. The weather changes. But the Yahweh who ruled the earth last night is the same Yahweh who rules it today. Same convictions, same plan, same mood, same love. He never changes. Friends can sit by your deathbed, but you need a Yahweh who has defeated the grave. Philosophers have debated the meaning of life, but you need a Lord who can declare the meaning of life. I don’t need to carry the burden of a lesser god…a god on a shelf, a god in a box, or a god in a bottle. I need a God who, while so mind-numbingly mighty, can come in the still of night and touch me gently like a spring rain.
My plane leaves in a couple of days, and I can’t wait to get home to see my parents, my brother in law and sister, and my three nieces. I am homesick. You could say I have the burden of homesickness. This burden is not a bad burden. As Believers, we all have a burden of homesickness. Just as I’m preparing for a trip to Colorado, each day we are preparing for our Master’s house. Even though I don’t know my departure date and flight number for God’s trip, I can guarantee you that it will happen someday. Isn’t this the concluding promise of Psalm 23 in verse six? “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The twists and turns of life have a way of reminding us – we aren’t home here. This is not our homeland. We aren’t fluent in the languages of disease and death. The culture of death through abortion and euthanasia discourages us, the noise of postmodernism disrupts our thought, and we feel far from home. And you know what? That’s OK. Please here me; I’m not saying that we shouldn’t fight to stem the tide of those things, but the byproduct of those things that culture condone are what makes up the burden of homesickness that God doesn’t mind us carrying. We can’t lower our duffel bag and breathe a sigh of relief that “I’m home”, because we are not. The greatest calamity is not to feel far from home when you are, but to feel right at home when you are not. Don’t quench the desire, but stir the desire for heaven by engaging culture to think about where our culture is going.
Just as plant lovers know that when a bulb weakens and starts to die off, that the point of blossom is about to come and it won’t be long until you see a beautiful flower. Maybe the angels up in heaven do the same with us. As they see our bodies weaken, they see us about ready to blossom in heaven.
When I go home, I know that my folks will have at least one party for me to go to. Everyone will be glad to see me and we’ll renew acquaintances. When we get to heaven, each one of us will have a party thrown in our honor, with people who we’ve not seen for a while who have gone to heaven before us. At that moment, only one bag will remain. Not guilt, it was dropped at Calvary. Not the fear of death, it was left in the grave. The only lingering luggage will be this God-given longing for home. And when you see Him, you’ll set it down and you’ll drop your longing when you see your Father. Those who love you will shout, and those who know you will applaud. But all the noise will cease when God says, “Welcome home!!”
Happy New Year, we’ll see you all in 2011!!