Travel Lightly

“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life, I will advise you and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8NLT

 Learning that God had a plan for my life was a relief to me.

I hadn’t done such a good job at it myself, making mistakes along the way, living in fear that I’d never get it right. I soon discovered, however, that knowing He had a plan and following it were two different things. I still felt like something was missing. And it was.


When I was 18, I had the delight of traveling to Germany after high school graduation to meet my relatives. My German grandparents ID-10084349also happened to be there at the same time, returning for a trip to visit the “old country” and their families they had left many years before. At the end of my visit, I was packing when Grandpa slipped a few pouches in my suitcase.

“I don’t think I’ll have room for these when we leave next week, Janie,” he said as he stuffed them in my suitcase. My cousin Max loaded my suitcase in the car as I searched the house for any forgotten items. At the airport, I waved good-bye to family and grabbed my suitcase to head through the Frankfurt airport. I could barely budge the thing. “What happened to this?!” I thought to myself. I suddenly recalled the bags Grandpa shoved in there, wondering what could possibly be in them.

I dragged that suitcase what seemed like miles to my gate, so encumbered by the weight of it that I wasn’t certain I would make it, arms and back aching. I was never so glad to unload something as I was that suitcase at the baggage check.

Extra Baggage

When I got home, I found the bags Grandpa had glibly tossed in. I peeked inside one of them. BB pellets! Each bag was brimming withID-10029240 BB pellets, weighing about 5 pounds. Ugh. My ultra-frugal grandfather had found a deal on pellets, and I had just lugged them halfway around the world for him.

After spending the previous day dragging around my suitcase, I had learned the lesson of traveling lightly. But it wasn’t until many years later that I realized this truth applies to much more than our physical travels. Thomas A Kempis said, “They travel lightly whom God’s grace carries.” I spent too many years of my young adulthood dragging around 30 pounds of my “BB pellet” past. God was guiding me along the best pathway for my life, but I was so bogged down by my past that I was just inching along.

Finally, the Holy Spirit taught me that I was missing gracethe grace that rids us of what has come before, freeing us for what is now. I already had the grace that forgives all my sins at the cross of Jesus. But I needed to learn how to accept grace for the journey that each day brings, realizing that each day I can choose to walk in that grace and live it. I learned that traveling lightly means I live with open hands that are not full with holding on to the past but are empty, waiting to grasp what God has for me today, now.

And it makes all the difference: Grace means I can dump the baggage of my past, free to run the path God has laid before me. Free to relish His plans. Free to join in His work.

If you’re still towing around your past, it’s time to permanently check it at God’s baggage counter and run with Him down the pathway of grace called Your Life.

Has grace made a difference in your life? Please feel free to share your experience below.

Pray on!

“Image courtesy of iconmac / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
“Image courtesy of Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.





Sacred Reading

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved reading. I read for all sorts of different reasons. I read to get information. Sometimes I read to learn new material. And I  also like to read to be entertained. I’ve learned that I can also let my love of reading draw me closer to God.

Today, let’s look at the spiritual discipline of sacred reading or as it is also called, Lectio Divina.

The type of reading that sacred reading emphasizes is not to entertain or even to learn.

It’s for an entirely different purpose, one that is explained in this quote by Thomas `a Kempis. “Do not read to satisfy curiosity or to pass the time, but study such things as move your heart to devotion.”

Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the other types of reading; they all have their place, but the purpose of sacred reading is to draw our hearts to our Lord. The idea is to come to this reading of a passage of scripture with no other agenda but than to hear what God wants to say to you. This is known as a meditative or devotional reading of the Bible that St. Benedict popularized as part of the Benedictine monks daily routine. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful, so we can assume that through His word God can shape us, mold us and change our lives. That’s what we hope to see through Lectio Divina.

Choosing a Scripture

When undertaking this type of devotional reading, you’ll want to choose a fairly short ( 4 to 8 verses) portion of scripture. The Psalms are a wonderful place to start, as are any of the Gospels and Ecclesiastes. To begin, you’ll want your Bible and a notebook to record your thoughts in. You’ll need to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Start by quieting yourself and praying that God will bless this time with Him, and that you’ll hear what He wants to say to you.

Four Steps of Lectio Divina

1. Read (lectio). Read your portion of scripture listening for the word or phrase that seems to jump out to you. You can write this in your journal if you’d like.

2. Reflect (meditatio). Read the same portion of scripture again and reflect on why you are touched by this word or phrase. Ask yourself, “What is going on in my life that caused those words to jump out to me?” or “Where do I see myself in this passage?” You may also record this in your journal if you’d like to.

3. Respond (oratio). Read the passage a third time. Ask yourself “How does God want me to respond to this?” You may pray something back to God. You may be convicted of a sin. You may be called to do something. Again you can journal your response if you’d like to.

4. Rest (contemplate). Read the passage the final time and then just rest in what you have learned and enjoy being in God’s presence. Resolve to carry this word with you throughout your day.

This is a simple but powerful way for God to change us and mold us into the people He wants us to be. One thing I’ve started doing lately is writing on a sticky note what it is that God has shown me that day, as well as writing it in my journal. You see, I resolved to carry it through my day, but I found that all to soon I forgot what it was God had shown me! By writing it on a sticky note, I can take it with me through my day and look at it repeatedly.

Feel free to share in the comments below if you’ve ever tried this spiritual discipline or if you plan on trying it. You can also share something God has shown you in your time of Lectio Divina if you’d like.

Pray on!