My wife and I were teaching a course recently at one of our European Ellel centres, and at the same time there was a local village fair going on in the field immediately opposite to the Centre buildings. We watched as various trucks arrived loaded with merry-go-rounds, swings and other fairground amusements. In the centre a large marquee had been erected where liquid refreshments were to be served, and live music was to be played.
We were informed that it would all start on the Saturday afternoon and go on until the early hours of Sunday, to be repeated on Sunday evening. In truth the ‘music’ was so loud that few of us got much sleep, although the teaching wasn’t affected as the teaching room was at the back of the premises.
Early on Sunday morning we were awakened by the noise of a tractor and saw a motorised litter cleaner going up and down the site opposite, vacuuming up the deposits left by the previous evening’s revellers. I was amazed at the amount of rubbish that they had abandoned on the floor, it looked like deep multi-coloured snow over the ground! The process was repeated in the early morning of the Monday as more ‘garbage’ had been discarded. Considering there were only a few hundred people present, it was extraordinary how much they had created.
It was a bizarre sight, such an enormous amount of litter left by so few, in such a remote part of a very rural area. It made me think of Paul’s comment in Philippians 3 that he regarded all his worldly achievements as rubbish by comparison with the value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. Although he was so well qualified, and had a top family lineage, he recognised that these things had only limited worth in the light of eternity.
All of us carry with us ’baggage’ that we consider to be of high value, such as our family line, our academic qualifications, our work achievements, and our possessions. But all of this will be discarded on the ‘Last Day’, because it’s only our relationship in Christ that has lasting value. The other things are not necessarily wrong and can be used by God to fulfil His purposes on earth whilst we are here, but much of our ‘baggage’ is really garbage and can be discarded now. Jesus wants us to be free of all encumbrances, every weight of sin, and all human efforts at giving ourselves status outside of the Kingdom. Being recognised by others for our ability or gifting is fine, but doesn’t have real significance in the light of eternity.
Rather than wait to the end when we will leave behind a great pile of rubbish for others to dispose of, perhaps we should look now at what we’re carrying which is unnecessary, hand it over to God, and move on through the rest of our lives seeking first the Kingdom of God as Matthew 6:33 reminds us. It doesn’t happen overnight, like the disposal by the litter tractor, but, maybe, by starting to look at the clutter of our lives, we can be better prepared for ‘that Day’.
Prayer: Father God, we thank You for all the blessings You’ve given us in this life, and for the abilities which have led to our personal achievements. However we don’t want to be defined by all that. Help us to see our earthly baggage in a Kingdom perspective, and to be prepared to hand over to You those things which don’t have eternal value. Amen.
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