Even My Chap Stick?

We were finally at the front of the serpentine line. Once there, we knew the drill. Jacket, belt, and shoes in the bin; cell phone, wallet, and loose change followed. I proudly removed all my liquid toiletries, slipped neatly into a clear gallon sized zip-lock bag. I say proudly because this was the first time flying I had remembered to do so. We then pushed our containers down the conveyer belt to receive their x-ray. We then dutifully got into another line, the one where you wait to raise your hands so they can really look at you. Safety can be a little creepy.

Waiting, I casually put my hands in my pockets, pulling up my trousers as I did. I wear a belt for a reason and I was missing it right about then. A rather gruff TSA agent appeared announcing to everyone but no one in particular, “Empty your pockets.” It was then, hand still in pocket, I felt my beloved cherry flavored Chap Stick. I say beloved because a tube has been in my pockets since college. “Don’t leave home without it” has been my self-imposed rule for years. I guess I like supple lips.

I asked the agent, “Even my Chap Stick?” Not looking up, and with a hint of agitation, she repeated her order, “Empty your pockets!”

What was I to do? My two full tubs of jacket, belt, shoes, wallet, phone and sundries were already past my reach. The line behind me was still packed. Unwilling to relinquish my Chap Stick to the TSA, I only had one option and I bravely took it. “Ma’am,” I said to the woman behind me, “May I please put my Chap Stick in your tub?” I know she’s probably never been asked such a question but she handled it with grace, “Yes, you may,” was her kind reply.

A true story and a silly one but it comes with a message. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has challenged us the past number of Lord’s Days. Getting to the end of the sermon, we heard this:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).

Jesus is talking to those who identify as his followers. He offers this illustration as a warning to those who believe they are saved but in reality are not. Entering the Kingdom of God is through a narrow gate. It is narrow because Jesus wants us coming through it with empty hands and empty pockets. We are to leave our “baggage” behind—our sin, our self-righteousness, our pride. There is a surrendering that happens when one comes to the cross.

In a way, it’s similar going through the security checks at the airport. We are to relinquish all and hide nothing.

This can be difficult. Perhaps there are relationships we still want to control. Maybe “stuff” we don’t want to hand over. There could be a vice or two in our pocket we’re hoping we can sneak through the gate.

The lyrics to “I Surrender All” have always unnerved me a bit. I have been in churches and Christian gatherings where it is sung and I have stopped. Not because the song is calling me to do something God doesn’t want me to do; just wondering how interested I am in doing it.

The gruff TSA agent reminded me of this. God even wants my “Chap Stick”.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

September 10, 2015

1 comment

  1. This is excellent…Thank you Pastor Rich for this simple picture of that which we have in our pockets, or, maybe our handbag….
    We have all heard of the reality that Jesus does not want to just remodel us, but rather renovate us…And the corollary to the reality is that there may be a room upstairs somewhere which we prefer to keep locked.
    This is an easy reality to avoid in our day-to-day, so this simple image is of great use, since most of us have some sort of thought or object which we routinely carry about with us, making it an easier picture to recall. very useful.