by Vanessa Young
The thought of packing everything I’d need to live and work for a year into two 75-pound suitcases terrified me. I was preparing to depart for a year of service with the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program.
I’m a planner. Family and friends know me as “the prepared one.” So when packing for a year of international service, I stuck with what I knew: Plan for every possibility and use the maximum weight allowance to cover all the bases.
Dragging nearly 150 pounds of luggage through Heathrow Airport, through miles of terminals and train connections, was one of the most miserable experiences I’ve ever had as a traveler.
Discovering how much I could live without became an important part of this formative year in my Christian faith. It was humbling and empowering to learn that I didn’t need most of what I’d packed to live 4,000 miles away from home.
[bctt tweet=”In relying on my own efforts to plan ahead, I’d forgotten to fully trust in God’s provision.”]
Out of all that I’d brought, the most important was photos of family, reliable blue jeans, hiking boots and comfort music for when I was feeling homesick.
Why had I brought so much with me?
A man once asked Jesus what he lacked in his faith, and Jesus said, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21).
In relying on my own efforts to plan ahead and prepare for everything, I’d forgotten to fully trust in God’s provision.
Each passing month of service taught me new lessons about God’s faithful provision. Living simply — without so many clothes, a car and electronic gadgets — helped me focus on the meaning of accompaniment and being fully present in the community where I served.
Scaling down my possessions allowed me to follow Jesus more closely that year. It continues to influence my intentional efforts to live simply to this day.
Vanessa Young is the director of youth and family ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois. She served as a YAGM from 2004 to 2005 and Global Mission Volunteer from 2005 to 2006 in the United Kingdom. This blog first ran in the September 2015 issue of Gather magazine as a Give Us This Day column. To read more about carrying excess baggage, see this issue of Cafe.