I liken it to this: a family know they are going to move house. Maybe not this week, nor next week, but soon and they have to make a start on the sorting and packing. They are down-sizing so not everything can be included, and the children have a LOT of toys and stuffed animals so something has to be sacrificed.
They hand the children a box each and say, “put in there ONLY what you absolutely need. You can only take the essentials. You’ll have to be brave and leave a lot of things behind!” This is like our preparations for the End. We have all – during this time of peace and prosperity – developed lives full of inessential clutter, and I don’t mean just material possessions. Actually, it’s the spiritual clutter that slows us down the most.
Now the time has come to sort through our lives and think “what do I actually NEED?”. We can allow ourselves plenty of “things” while we sit at home in our large house, but when God begins to move we have to follow and then anything too big or cumbersome will just be a hindrance.
The Israelites found this out when they came from a settled way of life in Egypt into a dry wilderness. They were led by God who showed himself as a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. Whenever the pillar moved on, the Israelites had to pack up and move. Imagine if you’d just got the tent the way you liked it, added a few shelves, arranged the food alphabetically in rows, plumped up the skins that you sat on, made a roaring fire and had just set the pan of water on it to have a nice hot drink (or whatever – excuse me but I have no idea what they’d do, so bear with me). As you lay back and sigh, contemplating a relaxing afternoon, you see through the tent door the pillar of smoke moving away. ARGHH. Now you have to hurry and pack everything up again!
How much better it would have been to be “always at the ready” as Jesus warned. He said we should be waiting for him like people about to go on a journey, ready-clothed, hat and coat on, bag slung round your shoulder, spare toothbrush in your pocket and you don’t need to rush down to the bank to draw out some cash. Don’t get too settled is my point. Travel light. If there’s anything in your “tent” that is going to cause a delay, get rid of it, that’s my advice.
Going back to the those boxes – what will you put in yours? If you don’t really need it, ditch it!