Article From the Magazine:

Traveling Light: Take Only What You Need

By David Jeremiah

Do you remember the man in Jesus’ parable who discovered a treasure in a field? He sold everything he had and bought the field in order to gain the treasure (Matthew 13:44).

That’s what this month’s Turning Points is about: Divesting ourselves of what is less valuable—activities, burdens, things—in order to gain what is priceless.

Said another way, it is about “traveling light” on our kingdom journey through this world. It is about identifying our destination and being willing to make the right choices to reach our journey’s end. I want to challenge each of us to ask the hard questions about our journey and the value of “traveling light”—and the changes we may need to make in our priorities, values, possessions, and other worldly ties as God leads us.

When families move to a new location—especially one that is far away—what do they do? Have a moving sale! They realize that moving lava lamps, turkey fryers, and stacks of old magazines is not wise. When our family moved from Indiana to Southern California in 1981, we evaluated everything and left a solid amount of Jeremiah property behind.

The question is always: “What do we need to help us reach our goal? What might distract, divert, or become an obstacle?” And those questions can be answered only when we answer these as well: “What is my destination? How important is it to me? What am I willing to lose in light of what I stand to gain?”

Consider the initial pilgrim settlers who loaded their bare necessities onto tiny sailing ships to reach the New World of America. Or the next greatest movement of people—the “Westward Ho!” settlers who filled wagon trains in the nineteenth-century migration from Middle America to the West Coast. A two-thousand mile, six-month wagon train trip from Missouri to California cost about $2,000 in the 1840s, which is more than $58,000 in today’s currency. Where would the average family of very modest means get that kind of money? By divesting themselves of things that were not as important to them as the goal of reaching their destination.

There was no room on a prairie schooner wagon for furniture, pianos, beds, heirlooms, and the like. They could take only what would keep them alive on the journey and help them begin again upon arrival. A family of four needed 600 pounds of flour, 120 pounds of biscuits, 400 pounds of bacon, 60 pounds of coffee, 4 pounds of tea, 100 pounds of sugar, and 200 pounds of lard; plus, bags of rice, beans, dried fruits, and seeds for planting new crops upon arrival. Not to mention tools and kitchen equipment for the journey and their new home.

History records the observation of one A. J. McCall, a wagon train traveler on the Oregon Trail who noticed how some travelers tried to take everything with them: “They laid in an over-supply of bacon, flour and beans, and in addition thereto every conceivable jimcrack and useless article that the widest fancy could devise or human ingenuity could invent—pins and needles, brooms and brushes, ox shoes and horse shoes, lasts and leather, glass beads and hawks-bells, jumping jacks and jews-harps, rings and bracelets, pocket mirrors and pocket-books, calico vests and boiled shirts.”1

Are we like some of those wagon train pioneers, with desires far bigger than our wagons? Do we need to think afresh about what it means to travel light through this world?

Like the man in Jesus’ parable; like Abraham who traveled from Ur to Canaan; like the Mayflower pilgrims whose goal was a new life in a New World; and like the “Westward Ho!” pioneers—we cannot afford to be weighed down by things that work against us.

Our fall Everything You Need ministry campaign conveys this idea: God has given us everything we need for our kingdom journey. We should be careful about weighing ourselves down, entangling ourselves with what might hinder our calling (Hebrews 12:1).

This month’s magazine will help us discern whether we are traveling light enough to respond nimbly and easily to whatever God calls us to do for His kingdom. Because the less we are encumbered by this world, the more readily we can go anywhere and do anything for Him!


1“Historical Trails: Trails Basics—Supplies,” National Oregon/California Trail Center at Montpelier, Idaho, (accessed 7-9-19).



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This article was first published in Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.
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