JULY 1, 2008
A few weeks ago, Stephanie on our traveling team tried to check Friends of the Groom luggage at the airport, and faced a desk agent who was in full-Pharisee mode. “That’s two items,” he said, pointing at our performing blocks which were strapped together. We’ve traveled with the blocks this way for twenty years, but when Steph objected, the agent threatened to charge $300, claiming all our items were oversized. So in the end, she separated them. “Aha,” he said. “Now counting your trunk you have three checked items. The second one will cost you $25, and the third one is $100.” Then to add insult to injury, he forced Steph to drag everything by herself to an “oversize bag” area, even though the blocks—now separated and paid for—were clearly no longer oversized.
Take a deep breath and count to ten—it’s getting a little crazy out there. The three members of our out-of-town team used to travel with nine 70 pound items. After 9/11, the airlines cut us back to two 50 pound items each, and suddenly we had to figure out a way to eliminate 330 pounds of props, costumes, and equipment. Now with rising jet fuel costs, we’re paying each way for a second bag—and looking for a way to trim further.
But here’s the hidden blessing. Lighter trunks mean our aging bodies will last longer as we do our work. I didn’t see it at first, but now I silently say, “Thank you, Jesus!” whenever I load the van.
I think there’s a spiritual principal at work. So much of life is a paring down. I started out with so many noisily expressed beliefs, and God has pruned me back to a few convictions—more deeply held, having been tested. Bodies weaken; families diminish as children leave home and parents pass away; and you watch in amazement as the years behind you outnumber the ones ahead by a greater and greater margin. But, through it all, I hang on to the promise that God goes with us—trusting that the downsizing is just the Lord’s way of weaning us away from our attachment to this world.
I just came from a conference where I was asked to stage Hebrews, Chapter 12. The line that stays with me is this: “Let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and run the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Who knows how much weight the airlines will eventually require us to lay aside? Or how much more God will pare down our lives in the years to come? Whatever happens, I pray we’ll run toward Him with a lighter step.