Cramming It All In Without Checking In

I can be somewhat of a cheapskate (some people say I should use the word “thrifty,” but call it what you will). I try to avoid fees whenever possible and anyone who has been out and about with me knows I’m not ashamed to use coupons in stores and restaurants.

I remember one of my weeklong trips to a tourist city last year. I didn’t want to pay any baggage fees newly mandated by the airline I was using, and I had a suitcase small enough to fit in an average plane’s overhead compartment. I figured I could pack clothes and keep the jeans to a minimum, washing a load of clothes in the middle of the week. I was determined not to buy much since I have visited before).

Well, so much for that. I did end up buying a few things, and because I didn’t have the exact same configuration I did when I arrived, I spent some time on the morning of my departure date sitting, rocking, and lying on the suitcase to get it closed. I was pulling zippers, rearranging stuff inside, you name it. I finally got it to work. The suitcase was completely closed—bulging but closed. I was afraid to re-open it before I got home, which wouldn’t be for about 8 hours.

When I got to the gate and was about to board the plane, I was carrying a camera bag and a laptop. The attendant took my suitcase and checked it, saying that it was a full flight and I could not have 3 carry-on items. But after all that, I got on the plane and the overhead bin above my seat was completely empty, so I could have brought my suitcase on board. (For some reason, I got to the gate late and was one of the last passengers to board.) Luckily, I was not charged a fee for the baggage check.

Not too long after this trip, I went visited my mother’s church. The pastor told his own story about traveling, and I could relate (he had all his kids sit on his suitcase to get it closed). But he caught me with the conviction of the Holy Spirit when he said, “Like a suitcase you have to sit on to close, you’ve crammed too much stuff in your life and left God out.”

Wow… that’s definitely me.  I knew that I was saying yes to a lot of projects, causes and people who I wanted to help. I am quick to advise someone to assess their own situation and not get too bogged down with helping everyone else while neglecting your own self-care.

Here’s a thought: Do we take the time to seek God and consider our ways, and what the endeavors we get involved in? Or do we forge ahead, certain that we can handle it, never consulting God or waiting for His answer?

I wrote this essay on paper several months ago, just found it, and reading it again now, it still hits me hard. I guess you could say that I’m still convicted. But God has some not-so-gentle ways of reminding us about things we need to do. Let’s just say that I’m listening to Him now.