“John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” – John 3:27-30
Imagine for a second that you are going on a three-day camping trip into the North Carolina mountains with your best friend. You buy a brand-new backpack to carry all the supplies you need for the adventure. However, after you purchase the new backpack, you don’t have enough money to buy all the other new equipment. So you borrow old camping supplies from friends and family that seem to be 50 years old. You pack your bag reluctantly, but you are pleased to have at least all the equipment you need. Your backpacking partner shows up at your house with brand new camping gear. Your partner’s backpack is filled with the latest and greatest camping equipment.
The best part is that there is two of everything. Your friend says, “I wanted you to have the best equipment, so this is my gift to you.” Does the fact that you have already packed your bags deter you from pulling all your old, decrepit supplies out and stuffing your new backpack with all your new stuff? Probably not in the slightest. When we give our lives over to Jesus Christ, He makes us brand new.
You could say that Jesus gives us a brand new backpack. All the old stuff that we’ve been carrying around is all traded for the brand new. We have a clean slate. We realize the stuff we had in our life before is old and falling apart, but we feel like we have no choice but to put it into our bag. Greed, gossip, selfishness, along with a whole assortment of vices stay with us.
As we grow in our faith, Christ is offering us new life daily with Him, but we have to take the junk out of our old bag before He can fill it again. What is even more amazing, Jesus not only offers us the new, but he removes the old. Still, we cannot keep taking it back and putting it in our bag. He gives us contentment in place of greed, words of encouragement to replace our gossip, and a heart to serve others instead of serving only ourselves. Daily look in your bag, identify the old ragged pieces and ask God to take your desire for them away and replace them with life-giving supplies. That is the way to prepare for the journey.