The Greybeard Chronicles: Will You Carry On, Sir?
"Will you carry on, sir?" I am standing at the American Airlines ticket counter in Mobile, Alabama, getting my boarding pass so I can fly home to Dallas/Fort Worth for just the second time in nearly five months. Ordinarily, I would use the electronic check-in device, swipe my debit card, grab my boarding pass and avoid the ticket line.
But this day, I am the ticket line. So, I saunter to the counter.
I hand my driver's license to the pleasant woman in the familiar airlines-issued uniform and wait. Her fingers furiously assault the computer keyboard for a couple seconds, then she nods to the oversized duffel bag hanging from my shoulder.
"Will you carry on, sir?"
The question strikes me funny. It's as if the woman has seen right through my eyes like they are the windows to the soul some people claim they are. Her question seems deeper and more earnest an inquiry than she had any idea it would be.
How could she know my recent struggles with homesickness? How could she know how close I had come to packing my bags and heading home? How could she know how hard it would be to spend just 48 hours at home before returning to this very place?
But there it is: The question each of us must face. When the road is rough or simply leads us places we hadn't planned to go, when the requirements of life require more than we feel prepared to give, when circumstances conspire to challenge your mettle, your resolve, your will...
"Will you carry on, sir?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I will."
"So, you will not be checking any baggage?"
(Who is this woman? Some angel unawares, sent to ask me these soul-searching questions when all I want to do is go home?)
Again, the question feels weightier than she means it to be. The truth is I have baggage and plenty of it. The baggage I carry is mostly why I am at this ticket counter in the first place: The baggage of poor decisions, wrong turns and missed windows of opportunity.
But I am not unique. Show me the pentagenarian with no baggage and I will kiss your foot.
We all have baggage.
Now, you can check that baggage, but not at an American Airlines ticket counter. You can check it at the foot of an Old Rugged Cross. You can get Jesus' blood-stained stamp of forgiveness, hope and peace. You can cast upon Him your cares and rest in the knowledge that He cares for you.
However, letting the Prince of Peace valet your baggage will not likely change the fact that you will occasionally find yourself in a tight spot or feeling misplaced.
Will you carry on?