“My bags are packed”. That was a common response I’d hear from my friend Dick Birmingham in the last year of his life. Dick had traveled the world over his 92 years, but he was preparing for his final trip… the trip to heaven. His preparations were almost complete …. his bags were packed.

Normally you prepare for a trip by collecting all the things you’re going to take with you…. clothes, money, tickets ….. gee, don’t forget anything. I’m usually a last minute packer when I travel and tend to throw in too much, “gee, what if it snows….what if I spill gravy on my pants — better toss in a couple of extra pairs….should I bring my tennis racket —hmmmmmm  I haven’t played tennis in 20 years.” Before you know it I don’t have room for my toothbrush. 

Yet for the final trip having your bags packed means leaving everything behind. As Billy Graham once said, “you never see a U Haul trailer being pulled behind a hearse”…. you can’t take it with you. 

Jesus gave the apostles instructions on how to pack for their missionary journeys. “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.”(Mark 6:8-9)  We are pilgrims, journeying through the varied landscapes of life on our way to the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us travel light, unburdened by useless baggage…material or spiritual.. and sing this pilgrim psalm to the God who has given us such a glorious goal in life. (ref. Magnificat, 2-20-23)

Downsizing is a common goal as people get older and are beginning to prepare for their final journey. I just visited my brother who has gradually downsized from a grand home and estate and consolidated into a one floor one bedroom condo as he’s getting his affairs in order. My brother-in-law and his wife just moved to a much smaller home that is easier to care for. Our dear friend Paul Temple and his wife made a final move to a basement apartment within the last year; the timing was spot on as Paul passed away last week. Judy and I downsized several years ago and continue to look to get down to “one tunic”. 

As we learn in the Book of Ecclesiastics, “to every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven…. a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together …. a time to get, and a time to lose …. a time to keep, and a time to cast away.” (Eccles. 3:1-8) There’s a time in our life to build, to accumulate, a time to grow as a family, to build a career and  mission. There’s also a time to get ready for the next journey. It’s not a sad time it’s simply the next part of living for the Lord. 

So whatever the phase of life we are in, let’s listen to the Lord and travel light, unburdened by useless baggage…material or spiritual. Our true home is in heaven and we need to always keep one eye on our final goal…. tossing away any useless baggage, material or spiritual. As we do this our spirit will be light and we will live in freedom. And that is very good news.

4 thoughts on ““Downsizing”

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