The essential problem of life is that it’s just so infernally messy. You have to get stuff to do stuff, and it multiplies like varmints. Want to learn? You need texts and notebooks. Want to travel? You need luggage. Want to play sports? You need equipment. Want to have a home? You need furniture and domestic gadgets. The ‘getting’ of life’s accoutrements just never ends.
As exhausting and expensive as the physical impedimenta of life is, it’s nothing compared to the emotional and social suitcases that soon clutter up around your feet when you become an adult. Leaving childhood means forfeiting that blissful short-term memory for interpersonal bumps and bruises on any given day. As a girl, I can remember full-on, knock-‘em-out-drag-‘em-down brawls with siblings, cousins, or friends that simply melted away with the pristine turning of a new day. Step into the world of grown-ups and you have to take on that dreaded bugbear – responsibility – for yourself and your own actions. You have to deal with the heap of accrued relational baggage.
On his journey to the throne, David experienced, indeed, provoked, many interesting emotional responses from people he encountered. He collected no shortage of namby-pamby friends, flat-out enemies and double-dealing, back-stabbing relatives. Through relatively little fault of his own, David left a wide swath of negative encounters behind him in his journey to the throne. While fleeing Saul and camped out in the land of the Philistines, David slowly amassed around him a rag-tag band of warriors, fugitives and family members. While on military maneuvers, their home city, Ziglak, was attacked by the Amalekites; ransacked of goods, and all the wives and children taken slaves. Though exhausted and ready to kill him, David’s men follow his lead one more time to recover their families. However, as they close in on the raiders, half of his men suddenly deflate like a dying camel, declaring they could go no further. They collapsed, finished, among the baggage, just as the real fight was starting. So, there he left them until his victorious return. Of course, the soldiers who went all the way with David had no intention of letting the quitters share in the actual spoil recovered. It’s David’s response that settles the matter and lays down a precedent still used today.
“David said, You shall not do so, my brethren, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and has delivered into our hands the troop that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter? For as is the share of him who goes into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike. And from that day to this he made it a statute and ordinance for Israel”. 1 Samuel 30:22-25 Amp
When I consider how gracious David was, I’m astounded. Life is full of these treacherous, shapeshifting sycophants who do incredible damage, undermining our trust. Of course, not all relationships are going to be the gilt-edged, gold-brick variety that last a lifetime, but we’re never really ready for a Judas in the camp either. How many times in life have we experienced ‘the baggage-boys’; people who enjoyed good times, but departed at the merest hint of trouble or trial? Acquaintances of convenience; they could not bear with us on life’s changing fortunes. We had something that attracted them, and for a while, they basked in our resources. When our famine descended, however, and times turned tough, they scattered. True colors were revealed. What always astounds me is that, when we come back from the battle victorious, there they are again, waiting to share the celebrations. Brazenly, they lounged among the baggage, waiting for the storm to clear. There’s no apology…they never acknowledge how shallow their loyalty was, their utter selfishness, nor the wounding of their betrayal. What do we do with these unabashed dissemblers?
Rogue agents abound; the twisted tendencies of our carnal nature and the inherent inclination for us to be perverse, forward, stubborn, refractory, completely selfish and inconstant characters. All of us fail the loyalty test at some time or another; the real question being, is it a repeating pattern in our lives? If so, self-examination may reveal the answers to fundamental relationship problems. There’s no protection from life’s scavengers unless we face our own personal areas of fickle contrariness. What we carry is what we attract. Only the Lord, the Word, and a liberal dose of humility reveals the diseased and dysfunctional places that render us vulnerable to attack. How can we possibly be faithful to others if our very identity is not deeply rooted in the unchangeable love of God? He’s the bulwark; He sets the standard; pillar and foundation of all successful, life-giving connection. To spiritually receive honor and worth from Him enables us to respect, esteem and dignify others. Our greatest defense against social predators is simply having the eyes of our heart truly open. Then, we can handle life’s baggage (and our own) with wisdom, mercy and some kind of steadfast conviction.
Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house,
and the place where thine honor dwelleth. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot stands in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord. Psalm 26 KJV