I still do not understand how a suitcase that was not even full could be 25 pounds over the weight limit. I had to open it up again, transfer some essentials to another bag and reluctantly put away about 15 pounds of the non-essentials. It seemed so hard to do that. I was going to Mexico and leaving friends, family, and comfort and I could not even take my favorite mug or my hymnal with me? I felt like some inherent right had been violated. That was when I remembered how American it is to claim rights, while how Christ-like it is to deny yourself your rights for the sake of another. And then I realized I was being just a little ridiculous. Not only am I very blessed to have so many material possessions, I am also blessed to have a safe place to keep them for the time I am gone. If I cannot have all of my favorite clothes with me in Mexico, at least I know they can stay in my closet and will be there when I come home on break. I do not have to permanently say goodbye to all of my books and keepsakes. I do not have to make the decision about if I am going to pay to store my great grandmother’s antique bedroom furniture or if I need to sell it.
It makes me think of the sacrifices that so many missionaries made throughout history and are still making today. Even though our culture today offers so many options and conveniences when it comes to travel, shipping, and storage, there comes a point for the committed Christ follower to part with some possessions. If I end up serving as a Christian worker long term overseas, will I be able to justify having a storage unit full of possessions at “home” as well as all my possessions in my host country? When so many people around the world have so little? And when the lure of possessions is so strong? When an American sense of entitlement takes a stronger hold the more things I have? My sacrifice at this time is small, but I do not know what level of sacrifice I may be called to one day if I choose to live overseas long term.
I am reminded of Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “Upon the Burning of Our House”. Her house was burned to the ground in 1666 and most of her possessions lost. Though this was not a voluntary sacrifice of possessions, her attitude was as if she had come to the place that she would willingly have offered her things as a flaming sacrifice. She notes that, “He might of all justly bereft/ But yet sufficient for us left”. She acknowledges that even were all possessions destroyed or willingly sacrificed, God in his fullness would be enough. This is important for every Christian to consider, though many American Christians do not have to face the realities of this in daily life. Bradstreet concludes by dwelling on Christ’s sacrifice for us, in which he gave all, and says, “There‘s wealth enough, I need no more,/ Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store./ The world no longer let me love,/ My hope and treasure lies above.”
I desire to learn to sacrifice with willingness and joy, knowing the reward that lies ahead.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/geishaboy500/2579826661/”>geishaboy500</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>