One Small Suitcase

suitcase2-300x227Have you ever had to sit in your home and think, “If I have to take just one small suitcase in an emergency, what goes?”

It doesn’t take long to realize how attached to earthly possessions one can become. Memories tied to objects. Clothing worn at this or that event. Trinkets picked up on previous adventures.

Several years ago when I was leaving for the World Race, I remember how difficult it was to consider packing life into a backpack (and how not fun living out of that backpack was but, oh, how rewarding it came to be in the end!).

“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”  Luke 12:15 ESV

Sometimes I let my guard down.

Reality is that we need far less than we think we do. We accumulate and squirrel away, only to find that we can become encumbered by our possessions or tie our worth and identity to them instead of to our Creator.

After three years in Ukraine, I’ve gathered quite a bit. I have more clothes than anyone should. Holding on to those “if I ever lose that 10 pounds again” wardrobe takes up too much space. There’s my collection of Russian kids books and dictionaries that I hope to one day understand (which at my current rate will be about 2030). And from years of working with university students, I am happy to report that my holiday headband and other costume wear is to be envied.

But we all know that life can change in the blink of an eye for any of us. Fires happen. Natural disasters happen. And sometimes your country goes into a crisis.

Now, before you think that I’m coming home. That’s not my intention.  However, wisdom, I believe, would be to pray for the best and prepare for the worst. So that’s how I found myself sitting on my bed with an open suitcase thinking, “Do I really have to consider this?!”

Yes, the situation in Ukraine is tension-filled and volatile, but, in general, I would say that Ukrainians are quite peaceful and there are moments that I am astounded at the waiting. News reports have shown what looks like a war zone in central Kyiv, and, yes, there is violence, but let me assure you that for now that level of chaos is very localized and the rest of the city is life as usual. Separating fact from rumor becomes more and more difficult and words like “state of emergency” and “civil war” are getting thrown around more frequently as the days pass. And so we pray and plan and wait.

It is easy to become anxious. “What if” is a blessing for planning, but a curse if constantly repeated on a never-ending loop.

“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:28-31 ESV

The current dilemma in Ukraine hasn’t taken God by surprise. The crisis you are facing in your personal life also hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Is our faith and identity wrapped up in what we own, the salary we bring home, the economy of our country or can we look at it all with thanksgiving for what God has provided, choose to seek Him first, and know that no matter what may come we can rest in Him, trust Him completely and He will continue to provide?

As I consider my one small suitcase that I hope not to use, I am thankful to know that God is in control whatever the future holds.

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1526628_656285854436082_1304536323_nPlease continue to pray for the people of Ukraine. Pray for wisdom for everyone involved. Pray for justice and peace. Pray that strongholds are broken and that God uses this to bring people to Him. Pray for those on both sides that are outside for hours in temperatures that are well below freezing. And there are plenty of other requests.

As for me, please don’t worry. We are carefully watching the situation, I’m safe, and I have emergency plans in place should they be needed. 

If you are interested in following the news from a source on this side of the world, I suggest kyivpost.com because it is in English