Credit our son Andrew with the title of tonight’s post. I was thinking of something a little more exotic, but come to think of it, he hit the nail on the head. Truth is, this post is really a continuation of Father’s Day. Because this year, Janet and all three kids were involved in getting me a new briefcase – not something I needed, but something that I would not have ever bought for myself. And throughout the years, Andrew and I always refer to our “bags” – the cases we lug around carrying our computers and other stuff.
In the old days, my Dad always referred to his briefcase, the one he never left home without – but I guess that is kind of old school. Nonetheless, I love going to luggage stores and throughout the years have amassed a number of “bags” for all different purposes. And I was totally unprepared for all the memories that flooded back to me when I received my gift from the family.
For starters, I recalled the day I bought my first real briefcase from Coach – it was black leather and rather thin. I really loved the thing. So much so that I carried it to and from my office at Keystone at the Crossing for many years. Eventually, it seemed to get a little small, and so I invested in a real upper end bag from Tumi – and used that bag throughout the growth years of my business and all my years of seminary. It was particularly good for school since it had so many dividers and my books were never out of order – there was a place for everything.
However, as I have aged, it has become a little heavy, and by the way, almost every road warrior has a black Tumi briefcase. And that’s not how I roll. I always like something a little different that stands out in a crowd – not something that blends in. Aside from all that, my needs have changed and I am more in tune with myself than I was back then.
Then, on to canvas bags – they are much lighter and travel really well on the airlines. Additionally, they are more casual and I no longer dress in the three piece suits I used to wear each day when I headquartered at the Crossing and it was our office policy to be in a suit and tie each day – in fact the men kept their suit coats on, all day, every day. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I ever instituted that policy – I wouldn’t consider anything like that today. I’m much more casual, more quietly confident and more advanced in my career than I was in those days. And to be truthful, I no longer feel the need to impress others the way I did back then. Maybe I have grown…..
Anyway, without boring you, I have accumulated bags for every circumstance – travel, teaching, training, weddings, funerals and almost anything else you can think of. So I was really surprised when I got my gift last Sunday. In fact, it was perfect. A leather bag, just large enough, but not too large, with an adjustable strap, the exact right look, and something else – it is brown, not black. I have never, ever, had a brown case. I never even considered it. But Janet and the kids must have known better. It’s great…
The point of all this is that my journey through my corporate career is clearly reflected in how I have dressed, and the cases I have carried, as I have matured along the way. In the beginning, I followed the crowd, doing what was acceptable, and when I grew a little, I started to make a few waves here and there. Then, I rebelled and did my own thing, coming back to center when I headed off to seminary. A little over-correction when I got out, and now the pendulum seems to be right in the middle again. And each step, I have grown and matured in a way that could only be orchestrated by God Himself.
And you know what? It’s the same way with my faith journey. In the beginning, I did what was safe and acceptable. Then, I moved out of my comfort zone and made a few waves before I tested the limits and really challenged God in my life. When I finally settled down and really re-dedicated my life to Christ, I got baptized by immersion and then went to seminary. Since then, I have refined my walk and tried to become more mature in my attitudes about God and in my relationship with Him. Now, I am pretty much on solid ground and know the direction that my life is supposed to go. My faith has matured along the way.
While I can look back on my life and remember the clothes and briefcases that I used during each phase of my life, the writer of Hebrews uses the analogy of food as the topic for discussion on spiritual growth. He uses “milk” as the reference for spiritual immaturity and “solid” food for his descriptor of what mature believers need. When addressing younger, less mature, believers, the author tells his audience in Heb. 5:12-14, “…You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
That’s how my life has gone. I started with milk and have, over a period of time, graduated to solid food. My encouragement this evening is that you will continue to move forward to being able to digest the “solid food” that God has to offer. After all, even though each of us started with milk, we didn’t stay there forever. My prayer is that you will continue to refine your spiritual journey and mature in your faith. Because there’s nothing like being confident in your relationship with Jesus Christ and knowing that you can help provide direction for those who are not as mature as you are. So whatever measure you use to mark your progress; whether food, clothes, or even briefcases, I pray that you will have a great day in the Lord. Grace and peace…