what we keep, what we leave behind
It was mid-morning and the African sky was beginning to darken. A storm was coming. Greg and I were wrapping up a ten day trip with a much anticipated visit to a mission hospital in Silibwet Township, Kenya. Our good friend, Franklin Graham, sent a pilot to pick us up from where we were staying out in the bush and fly us to Tenwek Hospital.
I’d been wanting to see this wonderful work for a long time. I was eager to meet the missionary doctors who devote their lives to serve the needs of so many in the vast, southwest region of Kenya. They would say, “We treat, Jesus heals.”
But when I laid eyes on the small, rickety-looking prop plane awaiting us, I began to wonder if this trip was a good decision. The pilot’s eyes, however, were scrutinizing our small pile of carry-on items sitting on the dirt runway. “Do you need to take all of this stuff with you?” My tote bag, Greg’s camera case, a laptop and two cotton jackets did not seem excessive to me.
“It’s just our camera, my wife’s purse and my computer bag,” Greg smiled. We joked about how often we overpack, taking along creature comforts like snacks, face lotion, handwipes, and extra shoes we think we might need. But the missionary pilot was not smiling.
“I strongly suggest you look again. Don’t take anything with you that will not be absolutely necessary for the next few hours.” Greg and I glanced at each other. Yikes, ok. We looked again!
It began to dawn on us that, considering the short runway at Tenwek, every pound of excess weight would be a significant factor in safely landing. Add to that a threatening storm and the limited capacity of that old (we hoped trustworthy) prop plane, it was time to get serious about flying! So for now, it was goodbye lipstick, brush, paperback book, laptop—we’ll see you later. These items were unnecessary weight that could be taken by car to our destination.
What we kept and what we left behind on that trip taught me an important lesson.
Unnecessary things are expendable when compared to the most valuable things.
I’m not just thinking of the visible stuff that we own or think we need. That can certainly be unnecessary weight. But more significant is the unnecessary baggage of guilt, unforgiveness, false beliefs, insecurity. The weights we cannot see or measure can be hazardous, especially in a storm.
When it comes to spiritual life, could it be you’re not scrutinizing the weight you are trying to carry? Like the eyes of that pilot, the Captain of our salvation asks is all this necessary? I will tell you, no joke, it is not. Friends, let’s heed our Captain’s warning. You can trust Him with your life.
Therefore … let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1)
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We have since learned that experienced bush pilots in those rickety old (by our standards) planes are often the most trustworthy and dependable anywhere!