Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“Preparing A Spiritual Go Bag” by Garris Elkins

A couple of months ago Jan and I flew to Phoenix, Arizona.  My flight was in the month of May so Phoenix was already getting hot.  I decided to wear shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt for the flight anticipating a very warm arrival.

The flight from Medford, Oregon took us over some really desolate countryside in Nevada and Arizona.  As I began to daydream, I wondered what I would do if the airplane went down and I somehow survived the crash.  We were flying over utter desolation. I realized I had no supplies and I was not dressed to survive.  I was wearing flip flops, shorts and a tee shirt.  Basically, I would be toast in an emergency.

As I thought about this imaginary scenario, I realized how foolish we have become in our Western culture to not be prepared to survive in the various landscapes through which we travel. We assume the environment inside our little insulated aluminum tubes called airplanes, flying high above unfriendly terrain, is our reality. We assume that the deserts we cross will never come inside our vehicles until we have car trouble and realize we forgot to bring water.

Just last week I watched a TV show about “Preppers.”  These are the people who have taken doomsday preparation to a new neurotic level. I found myself mocking some of what they were doing.  In my pride, I failed to realize that if the proverbial stuff ever did hit the fan they would appear a whole lot smarter than I was giving them credit for.

I began to ask myself some questions like, “Am I prepared to walk away from a spiritual crash site and navigate the emotionally challenging terrain ahead?”  “Have I worn spiritual flip flops for my life-trip instead of hiking boots with Vibram soles that can endure the hike back to reality?

As ridiculous as it would appear for any of us to think we could walk away from a real-life wilderness crash site in a pair of flip flops, it seems equally ridiculous to think that we could move through the coming seasons of life with weak spiritual footwear and a lack of survival equipment.

As I write this, I think of the Church in the first century being able to walk away from the spiritual crash sites of persecution, or the Reformers who climbed out alive from the wreckage of the Reformation, or the church in Uganda who walked away from the brutalizing presence of Idi Amin. In each of these examples, amidst great pain and sorrow, they made it out of the wilderness because they were spiritually prepared.

Recently, I learned a new phrase – “Go Bag.”  A Go Bag is a small backpack filled with enough supplies to get a person through the first three days of a catastrophe like a hurricane, earthquake or flood, where you are cut off from normal supply lines.  In the Go Bag is packed your food, water and survival supplies.  The Go Bag is placed in a known location and remains available to grab and go in case of an emergency. 

While is sounds like a smart idea to actually prepare one of these Go Bags for what can occur naturally, it seems even wiser to have our spiritual Go Bags ready for times of unexpected life-crisis.

As I began to think about what one might need in a spiritual Go Bag I came up with the following list:

-       A practiced trust in God developed before a crash happens.
-       Scripture intentionally hidden in our hearts.
-       A daily reliance on the supernatural power of God’s Spirit to deliver.
-       A realization that no matter what happens, God has a plan to save us.

This list for a spiritual Go Bag is short and simple.  I have developed this list from a lifetime of a trial and error faith in times of crisis.  If our spiritual Go Bags are packed and ready at all times, we will be able to walk away from any relational or emotional crash site with the ability to overcome the surrounding wilderness and survive the trek out to live another day for the glory of God.

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