Packing All That You Can't Leave Behind

A short course at McMaster, a wedding, and Bible Day Camp have kept me off the computer for a few weeks so here goes.

A colleague of Julie’s buried the love of her life this week at age 55 and it reminded us both of saying goodbye to Julie’s mom in 2002.  Similarly, we shared dinner last night with another friend who lost her mom to cancer a month ago.

The day Glenna died (and repeatedly after that) I listened to U2’s album All That You Can’t Leave Behind and I associate a number of the songs off that album with that day. The album cover, which I didn’t get a chance to see until later, is of the band waiting for a departing flight at an airport ticket counter.  I imagine the paradox is intentional – you don’t depart from the arrival area.  Normally you leave your bags with the airline and go to the lounge to await your flight but Bono and the boys aren’t ready!  There is only three bags between the four of them and a couple of guitar cases.  The band appears to be leaving but they are not prepared to go.

love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Leave it behind
You’ve got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme…

That song still reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3, ‘there is a time for everything,’ but all of it will be left behind.  The only things you bring with you are the things you can’t leave behind.

What can you not leave behind?

Your soul I suppose, being infinite  isn’t entirely here anyway so it won’t be left behind.  It won’t fit in the body that is yours as it is – it extends off into eternity.  It’s destiny lies in the one in whom you have placed your hope.  Jesus lies beyond as well.  He stands as either your advocate or as your judge before God’s throne.

Good deeds surely get left behind, for they are everywhere on this earth.  No one seems to be able to pack them up and take them with them.  The earth would also be filled to overflowing with possessions, if they didn’t rot and fall apart so quickly. Unfortunately our mistakes and our sins are easy to pack.  They preceed us in life and follow us in death

The only treasure you can take with you is Jesus (if it is safe to call Jesus a possession).  The only possession that is truly yours is His Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1: 13 – 14) None of our good deeds will win us God’s favour, and any one of our mistakes will surely earn God’s wrath.

The gospel is that those who trust in Jesus, have already died with him. (Rom 6: 3 – 7; Col 2: 12) They have been buried with him and are awaiting their final glory.  The gospel is that Jesus has gone before us.  He has already taken the blame for our sins and has exchanged them for His righteousness.  When we arrive in God’s presence with our empty hands God’s records will show that our sin was already paid for.  Jesus righteousness cannot be left behind.  It preceeds us and secures our place in God’s presence forever.


One thought on “Packing All That You Can't Leave Behind

  1. A great song and a great post. It reminded me of when Job said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”


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