Take Nothing for the Journey

July 11, 2021

I am always over-packed.  When I travel, I go back to my scouting days and the “Be Prepared” motto.  Usually, after I have laid everything out, I take the time to then subtract some of my choices because I can’t fit it all in the travel bag.  I was always amazed at travelers who put everything in one bag to fit in the overhead bin in an airplane.  That has never been my experience.  When Jesus sends His disciples out two by two, He tells them to travel light.  Take nothing for the journey.  That is amazing.  He is inviting them to trust that they will have everything that they need.  They will be able to face anything they will encounter and handle any kind of challenge that will be presented.  When I travel I take into account the weather and what type of clothes will be best for the places I want to see.  I usually pack too many shoes.   One pair for golf, one for running, one for going out.  That just eats up space.  The words of Jesus are very challenging to me.

What does it look like to take nothing?  Could I have traveled to the Philippines with nothing to be a part of that mission trip?  Not me!   I have so much growing to do.  I rely on so many things of the world.  Jesus wants us to pack up for eternal life.  What do we pack for our spiritual journey?  He is saying the same words—pack nothing.  That kind of trust that our soul is going to find its way to our destiny in heaven and nothing from this world will help, is one that finds us examining our faith.  How do we rely solely on God?  How do we trust completely in His way?

On my first trip to Africa, it was my first time out of the country and I was 26 years old traveling by myself.  I flew into Nairobi, Kenya in the middle of the night to be picked up by someone from the Maryknoll community where I would be staying.  While I walked out of the airport, I saw no one from the community. Instead, I just saw a lot of people trying to get me in their cab.  I kept telling them I had an arranged ride.  Eventually, since no one came for me, I entered a cab and gave the driver the address.  It was about 2:00 AM and I was filled with fear.  Yet I had to trust I would get to my destination.  I had to trust that if I was to see what God wanted me to see, I would be safe.  I look back now and wonder what I was thinking.  In a time before cell phone technology I entered a vehicle in a foreign country not knowing if I would ever end up where I was supposed to go.  My trust had to be completely in the Lord.  I did not know the language and I did not even know if anyone knew I was there.

In these moments when security is stripped away, we learn to trust differently.  Jesus invites us to take nothing for this journey.  When we have nothing, our trust intensifies in Him.  When fear longs to be the loudest voice, Jesus in a gentle whisper tells us to not be afraid.

The real journey is to heaven, how is our packing going?

Father John Ouper