Bag of eels? Check! Wedding souvenirs shaped like explosives? Check! Taxidermy armadillo wearing a holster and gun? Check! These are just a few of the many strange things TSA reported people have packed in their suitcases.
This time last year I was packing to go to Guatemala on a mission trip with our church. The airlines had a carry-on allowance so every person in our group brought one—stuffed full with trinkets and toys for the children we’d meet. One suitcase was filled with jump ropes and deflated soccer balls and another was entirely full of candy.
Humanity is currently in a frenzy packing for those coveted Summer Vacations! What to take? My husband’s rally cry of “Everyone pack light!” is always drowned out by the clanging of hangers and all the grunting from those of us trying to get our suitcases closed.
I’ve mentioned my childhood vacations before but this one needs told again. When Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I don’t think he was referring to riding from WV to NC crammed in the back of a pick-up truck with your mom, your aunt, your sister, and your cousins…but he could have been.
The mattress along with pillows we made from all the Kroger bags filled with clothes almost spoiled us with comfort, but after the temperatures soared and we’d collected a satisfactory amount of sand in the truck, camping on the beach ended. The adults agreed it was a matter of survival to seek relief in a hotel and the only one with a vacancy was incredibly fancy. In the parking lot we were greeted by a bell-hop and his rolling cart. I remember Mom and Aunt Hilda looking at each other with wild eyes, then proceeding to hang over the tailgate with their tails in the air and frantically dig through our pile of Kroger bags. Triumphantly they pulled out the only one real suitcase we had among us and proudly handed it to the waiting bellhop. The suitcase held barely any clothes as it had gotten ransacked before we even crossed the WV border! To make matters worse, the women caught a pair of Aunt Hilda’s underpants in the lid when it was hastily closed and they flapped in the breeze as the bell hop rolled across the parking lot. I could tell by his face he was impressed that eight people could pack so light!
What do we take for the journey? The Israelites knew what to pack in the Ark of the Covenant which traveled with them crossing the desert. God told them to include the tablets with the Ten Commandments to remember the laws for successful living, least they forget. Also Aron's rod, which represented God's authority which the people had rejected when he appointed Aron as their leader. God proved he was divinely appointed by having Aron’s staff and none other burst forth blooms and almonds. Are we rejecting God's authority in any area of our life? Sometimes it's hard to give up the reins...
The third item in the Ark was a jar of manna to remind them that God will always provide what they need. Its inclusion had a dual purpose as it was also an uncomfortable reminder that even though God had provided for them, the Israelites still complained about the manna and asked for something else. Sometimes I need to look at the jar of manna in my own life and simply trust daily and to be thankful for what I have.
The Ark and all the treasures packed inside was part of God’s plan to be with his people. Israelites were professional travelers and knew they needed the presence and power of God to go with them...and thousands of years later we still do too. Don't leave home without Him and if you pack light, pack The Light.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel