I’ve been back in school at Judson for three weeks now, and I think I’m finally ready to start unpacking my suitcases. I’ve opened up a few and grabbed something that I needed for the day, just to zip them up and slide them under my bed again. One of my suitcases, the one I put all the important items in, is locked…and I can’t seem to find the key.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not talking about actual suitcases…you better believe that this OCD kid unpacked all of her belongings the night she moved into the dorm and had everything in perfect order before classes started.
The debriefing for my summer of mission work in Marion was about a month ago, and this is what we talked about…unpacking. My "suitcases" from the summer are full of memories, questions, and…you guessed it…stories. But, to be honest with you, it’s just been too painful for me to unpack until now.
Why? Why is unpacking so hard?
Think about it. When you’re going on a trip, especially if you’re traveling to somewhere you’ve never been, going on a road trip with your friends, or just having a relaxing vacation… packing is not such a chore. You’re excited! Of course you want to pack up and hit the road.
But what about coming home? You’re leaving the beach. The sun, surf, and sand are beautiful…you’ve already checked the weather at home for your return. It’s going to be cold and rainy for the next few days. You’re tired. The drive is long, and once you get back all you want to do is throw your stuff under the bed or in the closet, sleep, and try to resume the activities of your daily life. Unpacking means finding little souvenirs to remind of where you’ve been, what amazing things you took part in, and the cool people you met. And as fun as a trip down Memory Lane can be…it’s only a matter of time before reality comes knocking on your door to remind you that the trip is over.
This is where I’ve found myself for the past few weeks. Classes here at Judson are going great, it’s been fun to reconnect with some people and hang out with my friends.
But it's hard to fully live in the present until you've fully dealt
with the past.
Now that it’s my day off and my roommate is in class…it’s time. I’ve crawled under the bed and pulled out my suitcases. I’ve dusted them off, unzipped the tops, and started to rummage through. I’ve even taken a few things out…snapshots; letters, even a few stories…and I’ve put them in a special place to keep forever.
After the urging of a few close friends, a few tears, and the need to make sense of things, I’ve unpacked every suitcase but one. Why, why, why is it just so much easier to leave this one shoved out of sight?
The first message Judson’s Campus Ministries president delivered during our weekly Bible study was entitled “Matters of the Heart.” Ryan used the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 to explain her realization that sometimes we just need to stop and listen to tend to our hearts.
Judson’s first chapel service of the year included a sermon on “The Kind of Person God Uses,” in which Dr. Roger Wilmore challenged Judson girls to give God “every key to every space” in our hearts. We studied the kind of man Elijah was and how God used his seemingly ordinary life for Glory.
And last night at the college Bible study at Siloam Baptist Church, our college minister led a discussion about “Loving God With All Our Hearts.” We studied the life of Solomon, noticing how his heart turned away from God and began chasing one idol after another. As wise as Solomon was, he was not careful to watch over his heart.
Why is this suitcase so difficult to unpack?
It contains the “matters of the heart” Ryan talked about at the Core. I am reminded by the passage in Luke to slow down and pay attention to what my heart is telling me so that I can fully love and serve my LORD. As Ryan put it…
“If you don’t love God with all of your heart, how will you love
people in the same fashion?”
After finally listening and finding the key to unlock this precious suitcase, I’ve found piles and piles of an increased desire to be used more by God. Digging through the stories and memories from this summer reminds me that if I want to pursue the Will of God, I must pursue God…much of which includes digging even deeper into this suitcase and giving every bit of its contents to my Heavenly Father…no matter how difficult it may be.
(Thank you Judson College chapel speaker!)
The bottom of an unpacked suitcase is always the worst. As Siloam’s college minister noted, sometimes our hearts are like haunted houses full of dark and frightening rooms. I don’t want to go exploring…there may be too many skeletons in my closet from years and years ago. The dirty laundry from my travels can also be found in the depths of the unpacked suitcases. My unresolved anger, unanswered questions, and relationship struggles are crammed into the back corner. And my own dreams, plans, and need for security, comfort, and approval hold a frightening resemblance to Solomon’s idols.
Our hearts can imagine new things all the time, and there is
nothing more terrifying than realizing what you put in the place
of God in your heart.
Ending a blog is always difficult for me…I never know how to wrap things up just right (hence the unpacked suitcases and lost key) but I leave you with a verse and the hope that we can keep sharing our stories and journeying together.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."