by Rob Globke
1 Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
With the summer approaching and HMI camp season soon to begin, I am reminded of a story from a few years ago which made (and still makes) this verse hit home. It’s one of those memories that you look back on with both fondness and disdain. Something that was both miserable, yet in hindsight, good.
The setting of this story is Newark International Airport. I was coming home after a two week stretch of camps in Europe. On top of that, it was late in the camp season, so the exhaustion of trying to wrangle kids all summer was definitely catching up to me. I was eager to see my family. I was eager to get some sleep. I was eager to be home. But, my flight out of Newark International stood as the last obstacle in my path...and for some reason, it proved to be a formidable one!
I knew my situation before landing in New Jersey, but I didn’t fully comprehend the implications of this situation. You see, I had booked two separate flights from Europe to Chicago. One from Slovakia to New Jersey and one from New Jersey to Chicago. Not a connection, but two different flights. Upon landing, I was mentally preparing for the hoops I would need to jump through for my next flight. As I followed the herd walking like cattle off the plane, I realized I would need to get my luggage and go check in with another airline. I planned ahead when I booked to have plenty of TIME, so this wasn’t too much of a concern for me. However, I soon found out that I didn’t factor in DISTANCE!
So, after getting off the plane, I go collect my bag. This is not a roller bag or a carry on mind you. My bag happens to be a giant hockey bag loaded with clothes, gear, extra supplies from camp, books….you name it and it was probably in that bag. It was one of those bags you had to do a little squat and jump to get it up to your shoulder. After heaving it up, I clear customs and find someone to ask which way was the best to exit the international terminal and get to the domestic terminals.
I spot someone who looks like they know what they are doing soon enough and I ask, “Can you tell me the best way to get to United check in?” “Sure,” he replies and then proceeds to give me these elaborate details on where to go. As I’m walking away he pipes up, “You might want to grab a cart for that bag ya got there.” I say, “Thanks, I just might,” and turn to leave. The first thing I do is scan the area for a luggage cart. This is an international terminal, so there is no problems finding one. Upon arriving at the ‘cart barn’ I notice that there is a fee to use one of these carts. Convenient for the business, but not so much for Mr. Cheapskate (I pride myself on frugality!!). I think to myself, “No way I’m paying for one of these things. It can’t be that far to carry. I’m a young guy and it will be a good workout.” The decision was made.
I squat, I heave, and I settle the bag into the perfect spot on my shoulder preparing for the journey which awaits. And like most journey’s, it starts out brimming with hope and optimism: “I’m almost home. This bag isn’t so heavy. I’m making pretty good progress, etc….” But, as anyone who has ever carried something heavy for a long period of time knows, hope and optimism soon turn into despair and complaining. I don’t know if it was a quarter mile or what, but that heavy hockey bag quickly turned from being ‘not so bad’ to ‘please God make it stop.’. And yet, I was committed. I had made my choice. I wasn’t going to turn back or give up until I saw the United counter.
When I finally did see that glorious finish line it was like reaching a cold clear pool at the end of a scorching stretch of hot sand. It was sweet relief. The burden could be let down. The strain stopped. I had made it...bad decisions and all. I was checking in to the final leg of my flight. But, there was one final hurdle. The lady checking me in says, “Oh, I’m sorry. Your flight is actually being operated by one of our partners. They are located in terminal XYZ. It’s just a short walk that way,” as she points to her left. Of course, this terminal was one I had already passed on my trek to the outer regions of Newark Airport. I guess when it rains, it pours!
So, I squat, I heave, and I hoist my bag for a final leg (I hope). Now at this point, I see another ‘cart barn’ but I know I have to finish this. My frugality has morphed into stubbornness and I walk, step by step, to my final check in counter. I slip the bag gingerly off my shoulder and hand my information defeatedly to the airline agent as beads of sweat drip slowly down my back. I’m inwardly waving a giant white flag of surrender while the airline agent pushes a gazillion keyboard buttons as I ponder the joy in no longer having to deal with this burden. The bag has taken it’s toll on both my body and mind. It brought me to the brink, and in one last ditch effort to defeat me it begs to be weighed. The airline agent matter of factly asks me to put my luggage on the scale. I obediently squat, heave, and throw the bag on the scale. The agent looks at the weight and calmly says, “Would you like to try and take something out of the bag or pay $50 dollars for it being too heavy?” I force a smile and hand him my card. Checkmate.
The reason I fondly look back on this story is that it brought to life 1 Peter 5:7. Every Time I now read this verse, I know what it’s talking about in a real way. I have a tangible experience of what is going on. In life, we all will face moments when we carry a giant heavy hockey bag. These moments will be a burden, heavy load, weight, pressure, encumbrance, strain, problem, worry, concern, anxiety. “It’s no big deal. I can carry these. I can handle this,” we often try to tell ourselves. And so do I. But over time, we realize something we thought we could handle becomes a tremendous albatross hanging around our heart and soul. Just like I felt the weight of that hockey bag, we all soon feel the weight of life’s burdens and anxieties.
1 Peter 5:7 reminds us we don’t have to carry this baggage. In fact, it points us to the reality that we as humans are not equipped to carry this. It reminds us to not stand in front of the ‘cart barn’ thinking we will be able to manage on our own…because we can’t! God cares for us. He can handle ALL our burdens. Of course this requires us to humble ourselves. It forces us to put aside our pride and let Him carry them.
And in the end…..Life makes much more sense this way.