Spotlight 10/2021: Packing for our future
Trust or doubt, forgiveness or bad memories, love for our neighbour or prejudices? When packing for our future with God, let’s only take along what is truly important. District Apostle Michael Deppner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who worked for the UN refugee agency as a doctor, explains what matters.
While working on the front lines with the UN, we were asked to prepare a quick bag of 15 lbs (6,8 kg). We were to include essential things in the event of an emergency. The limited weight was to help us walk or run if we had to and not be encumbered. It would also help us in the event of an evacuation flight, which prioritise the number of people and not luggage.
We put in our ID and any documents we had with us. We took photos, precious letters, and any jewellery that we might have taken to this troubled region. It was very little. I still regret leaving a book behind that I received on my birthday a few days before the evacuation: an early edition of Henry Morton Stanley’s Explorations in Africa. We also had to take items that we might need along the way: a toothbrush, some water, and some food. We didn’t know how long the journey was to be and where it would take us through.
When things got tense and we were assembled with our bags waiting, we would pass the time and reduce tension by looking into each other’s bags. Photos, souvenirs, things we thought of as being valuable—and on second thought were embarrassing. While some prepared with care, others just threw in items at the last minute. Sometimes this was funny, sometimes it was alarming. Some forgot the essentials, and had it not been for the others they would have had problems along the way.
Now in calmer times, I still find myself travelling a lot. While I don’t enjoy packing at all, I love packing to go home. Over the trip, I often give away most of what I don’t need any more. Like with the quick bag, I only take what is important and essential. It comes down to very little.
As children of God, we are not fleeing this world. We are running toward someone we love: to Christ and eternal fellowship with our heavenly Father.
So, what do we really need on our journey? What bogs us down, what are we carrying with us that might slow us down or hinder us? What do we have that is of worth?
- Our identity: our calling and election.
- The basis of our faith: the Ten Commandments, the Articles of Faith, the law of love.
- Our vision and our mission.
- The precious lessons learned through the Holy Spirit.
And sometimes we have to make a decision and take an honest look at ourselves. What about
- our trust and confidence in our heavenly Father and His plan for us? Or do we have doubts?
- forgiveness? Or are there a lot of bad memories?
- our love for our neighbour? Or is there prejudice, pride, and resentment?
It is almost a cliché—to carry a lot of baggage—but it starts with us wanting to clear out what we carry with us. Sometimes we are able to do it ourselves. Sometimes we need help from our brothers and sisters, or even a professional when it comes to emotional baggage or abuse or addiction.
Throughout this exercise our heavenly Father is always willing to lend a hand. I don’t have to be ashamed to let Him have a look at what I am carrying and then ask for His help so that I can run faster!
Hebrews 12:1 puts it in a nutshell: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.”
Photo: ENA France
District Apostle, motto, Christ, our future