I left my beloved boarding school in Germany and my parents’ home on the field in France when I turned eighteen. I was headed to college in a new state in my passport country: Michigan. I was a little excited, but mostly terrified.
I grieved my high school graduation like it was a death: never again would I see these friends in this place, and I cried enough tears that summer to fill the Rhine River. I faced my future as bravely as I could, knowing that a college education was the key to achieving my career goals, but it made my departure no less heart wrenching.
I packed my suitcase carefully, leaving some clothes behind to make sure I had enough room for my treasures. My yearbook, filled with parting messages from dear friends, sat flat on the bottom. I covered my senior class gift in bubble wrap, ensuring the safety of the locally made pottery mug. I tucked a brand new journal in the side pocket, smiling as I remembered finding it in an artisan market in Budapest. It had a leather cover with a map on both sides: Europe was on the front cover as well as on the back cover, leaving the United States conveniently out of the picture.
Inevitably, I was confronted with the truth that the United States was a very real place, as I stood in my new dorm room on campus. There was a buzz of activity all around me as students new and old moved in. Posters lined the walls advertising campus clubs and upcoming events, their bright cheeriness a contrast to the nervous sadness in my soul. Knowing that this was exactly where I was called to be didn’t make my new reality any more pleasant.
In 1 Samuel 10, Saul is privately anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. But later, when all of Israel is gathered for the public proclamation of their king, Saul is nowhere to be found. When his name is chosen by lot, he does not come forward. The people look for him, and they can’t find him anywhere. In verse 22, the Lord says, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
The same was true for me. When it was time to meet new people, become familiar with my new surroundings, embrace this new stage of life, I was hiding among the baggage. I holed myself up in my dorm room, poured over old pictures, wrote emails to friends far away. I drank coffee from my special mug and wrote my heart out in my new journal. I turned inward, and shied away from living out my calling.
My roommate tried to engage me in the communal dorm activities. She was always popping into our room, letting me know about a late night hot dog run or frisbee on the common lawn. I humored her once in a while so as not to appear rude, but I vastly preferred to sit at my desk under the bunk bed, hiding amongst the familiar.
It’s all too easy to remain in our comfort zone, to let fear keep us near our baggage. We prefer to face the known circumstances rather than the unknown, even if the known is difficult. In doing so, we miss out on the abundance of life God has for us. Staying put with our baggage is an effort to avoid the difficult parts of life, to sidestep sorrow, to cheat hardship. As a result, we also forfeit our joy. We miss out on seeing God at work, seeing glimpses of His immeasurable love and the richness of Kingdom living. What seems safe becomes the thing that holds us back.
Where is God asking you to step out in faith, and where might you be hiding?