Several years ago, I attended a conference in Phoenix, Arizona. My husband came along and we extended the trip as a vacation. After the conference, we drove to Tucson to visit Saguaro National Park and see some of Arizona’s beauty beyond the big city. Imagine our surprise when we discovered the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, touted as the biggest rock show in the world, had just opened with vendors all over town. We love to collect rocks and gems!
We spent one day at Saguaro and another driving to Tombstone for a little history. Then we set aside a full day to tour some amazing gem and mineral displays. I had no idea God created so many types and colors of rocks. We tried to contain our excitement, but couldn’t help collecting a few beautiful specimens, including a small slab of polished malachite, raw yellow citrine, and a cab of bumblebee jasper. Okay, maybe it was more than a few.
Packing to go home, we decided to wrap up each new treasure, put them in our metal water bottles, and pack them in our carry-on backpacks. We arrived at the airport, checked our luggage, and were delighted to find we had TSA PreCheck, which meant no waiting in the long security line. We walked right up to the TSA agent, put our backpacks on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed, and sauntered through the metal detectors. Next stop, lunch.
Or so we thought. The x-ray showed two cylindrical containers and the agent couldn’t tell what was in them. We had to wait while she opened each one, removed each rock, unwrapped it, commented on how pretty it was, and moved onto the next. We thought after a few, she would decide it was all rocks and let us be on our way. We were wrong, again. She removed each and every rock from those containers. She did not, however, repack them for us. We lost all the extra time we might have gained with our TSA PreCheck status.
As I thought about this experience, I realized the grudges I tend to hold are like those pretty gems. They appear worthwhile when I first take hold of them. They don’t seem too heavy at all. But if I store them away in my heart—in what I think is a safe place—they unexpectedly slow me down.
Sometimes, like that TSA agent, God stops me and asks to examine each grudge, though He doesn’t usually tell me how pretty they are. Instead, He asks me to give them up to lighten my load. He reminds me of what Paul wrote: “Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV). The fewer grudges I hold, the less Satan slows me down.