Pack Light

In the past month, my wife and I have gone on two backpacking trips, our first. We learned a few things about backpacking on those two trips, like, how seriously out of shape we are. The four-mile hike was torturous, and that’s really not much of a hike. When you add a 30 pound pack – well, it still shouldn’t be torturous.

We also learned that suggested methods of making coffee (something I take very seriously) are not effective. We eventually broke down and bought an aeropress pack version. After the first trip, I repacked our cook kit to include the fuel and stove inside the kit. We didn’t need the two measuring cups they included. We added a “tarp”, or something, we could use to set stuff out so we could re-pack without laying everything out in the dirt. 

There were other lessons, but, to allow a short illustration remain short, we learned to pack light, real light, as light as possible. It was kind of funny. I brought full-size binoculars on the first trip. And I used them to look at the shockingly clear and bright stars. But I didn’t use the shovel. And so on, lessons learned, and then refined. If only we had a guide to help us weed that stuff out before we packed it four miles in the hot sun…

And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.”
(Mark 6:7-9 NASB)

Jesus sends out His disciples into the towns and cities ahead of them with some instruction on how to pack. “He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey…” Who doesn’t want a couple of smelly travelers in their homes? Actually, in the Middle East, that’s not a rhetorical question. Maybe more nowadays, but certainly not back then. It was actually genius. Be in need and be dependent. 

We don’t always appreciate that detail. In our culture that is a horrible thought, well for some. In fact we exalt those who are more independent, and despise those who are not. It’s a culture that makes church a bit difficult with too many “doctors” and not enough “patience” (and I did not misspell that). We abhor dependence. We abhor weakness. We shall not ask for directions (and, let’s be honest, that’s not a “gender” thing).

Jesus didn’t stop there with His instructions, though. He didn’t just give them a packing list, He gave them instructions on how to act as well…

And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.”
(Mark 6:10-11 NASB)

Rather than speculate (one of my favorite things) about why they should stay in one house, I think it’s probably simpler, with Mark’s account anyway, to simply think of it as the antithetical corollary to the rejection. Sometimes we will be cared for when we depend on others. Sometimes we will not be. If not, take nothing with you from that place, not the dust, and certainly not the resentment. 

It’s a strange life with Jesus that asks us to be dependent. It borders on asking us to be vulnerable (how terrifying!). You may have learned that “church people” are not safe. If you haven’t, that’s awesome! I hope you never do. Because lessons like that make this request of our Savior all the more difficult. Yet, it’s no less of a request of no less of a Person. He’s still our Creator and Savior, and He still makes this request. The question is, how much do we trust HIM, not how much do we trust them.

Go to church, participate, love the people, and be dependent, ask for help for yourself, for what you go through, with your stuff. Be that person who helps, and that person who needs help. We all need help, and our Savior has provided a group of disciples, called out of a dead world into life, to help. We are them, and help. We are them, and need help. It’s okay, that’s how He designed it.


1 Comment

  1. Matt, two things:

    I’ve been hiking since ‘65, backpacking since the 80’s, my pack now weighs under 20lbs. One comment on a ground cloth – think painter’s drop cloth, the plastic ones. They’re cheap, weigh very little, can be cut to size, and tossed when they wear out. Some places sell them on a roll, which is even cheaper.

    Regarding Jesus’ instructions to take nothing and to stay in a home. In Eastern Europe, much as in the Jerusalem of the time, religious pilgrims were venerated. They were housed, fed, resupplied, and it was considered an honor for one to stay with you. To turn them away was considered the height of inhospitality.

    Liked by 1 person

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