What do you do when you find a suitcase on sale for 70% off the retail price? You buy it. Then you go back and buy another one because there are six of you and you need to take most of what you need for over seven months!
We bought two suitcases this weekend. Our collection has grown to five now. Because we purchased our tickets through an agency that specializes in humanitarian trips, we get to take three bags each! I can’t imagine filling 18 suitcases with our things, but nevertheless we’ll be lugging a lot. At least it will feel like a lot to someone who is used to traveling to Israel for 18 days with a back-pack and a small roll-aboard. All of this packing forces me to think about how much we really need on this trip. Not what we want to take but what we actually need. We can’t take everything, and there is no point in lugging things we won’t use half-way around the world.
The jump from here to asking myself what I really need on my daily pilgrimage is not very far. One of the things that amazes anyone who has visited the third world is how Christians can be genuinely happy when they have so little. How can it be possible to have the joy of the Lord when your home is made of mud brick and roofed with thatch? Of course every materially prosperous Christian has to say “Christ is all I need.” We’d hardly be modern believers if we did not assent to that. The question I have to ask myself is, to what extent do I really believe this? The words are easy to say as I enjoy, with a thankful heart, the blessings God has given me. But somewhere in the back of my mind lurks the sneaking suspicion that Satan’s words to God about Job also apply to me. “Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has,” the accuser said, “and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11).
One of the things I have learned from the Christians in Samfya is that it is possible to be joyful when you have little. I saw that on a 10 day visit two years ago. I hope to take an advanced course from them as we live there for 5 months. I know this, we don’t need 18 suitcases to be joyful anywhere. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).