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Thought for the month – ‘Take nothing for the journey’

Article posted on 6 August 2018 Leave a Comment

Packing my suitcase for holiday often brings to mind these words of Jesus. I smile to myself as I cram in yet another pair of shoes just in case the first four pairs prove inadequate. And as I squeeze in various cardigans just in case it is chilly in the evenings I reassure myself that Jesus could only have had in mind male disciples when he issued this command.


Take nothing for the journey is an instruction designed to bring on a panic attack for those of us who see ‘travelling light’ as taking everything but the kitchen sink.


One memorable summer when booking our flights for a family holiday in Italy we decided to avoid the extra luggage charges of the budget airline we were travelling with and, much to the horror of our then teenage daughter, we booked just one suitcase for the four of us.


Surprisingly I found the experience of one suitcase rather liberating. It felt good to be forced to travel light, and it has struck me since that leaving things behind is rather important if a holiday is to be a real break. Of course, it’s not just the obvious extra baggage that’s the problem, but the more intangible things that clutter up our minds and preoccupy our thoughts. That summer the small suitcase became a reminder to me to leave more than the obvious baggage at home.


And in many ways, this gets us to the heart of what Jesus was saying when he first told his disciples to take nothing for the journey. He was giving them a lesson in decluttering, a lesson in depending on God rather than on their own self-sufficiency. So he said to them as he sent them out, ‘Take nothing for the journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.’ He wanted them to be light on their feet – there was an urgent job to be done – and he wanted them to know beyond any doubt that they were nothing without God.  Later, when the disciples returned from their mission Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything? “Nothing,” they answered.’


The truth is we can have everything in the world and yet in a profound sense still lack the real essentials. I suppose the most important question for any journey is what do I really need? And that’s a good question for the journey of life as well as a fortnight in Italy.



Revd Becky Bevan

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