(The above is a photo of myself taken in the spring of 2010. Yes, thank you, I could lose a little weight! I am holding on to an old traveling trunk, the same one I used when traveling by train in 1956 when I played for the St. Louis Cardinals. I am not sure why I am holding a bat, but pitchers always dream about being good hitters just as hitters dream about being good pitchers. This article was written in the spring of 2010, but is just now posted in Pitching For The Master.)

I dreamed about baseball last night, or was it early this morning? Maybe it is because this is springtime. Most of my dreams are about baseball and more like nightmares. I dreamed that I am still playing baseball, but continually find myself in a strange city, having trouble finding the ball park, and when I do find it, no one knows who I am or is able to direct me to the clubhouse. It was awful. I am sure that some psychiatrist can tell me what this means. That’s not much better than my dream about college days. In that dream I plum forgot about a class that I was supposed to be attending and it was the end of the semester! A lot of people have this particular nightmare. Well, my last dream was about bags. This dream started out pretty good. The players were getting off the bus at the hotel and finding their bags in the lobby where they were all neatly stacked. Then it dawned on me that I had forgot to pack my bags at the last hotel and I was instantly filled with panic. When we grow older, we panic so easy! Then I woke up! To make is worse, this is something that never happened to me in real life. Then I thought, today I will write an article about bags.

Those of you who travel know the importance of bags. In bags we put the most important items that we think that we cannot do without. It is surprising how quickly life can be reduced down to just a few essential things. An airline commercial advertisement makes a point by saying “Bags fly free!” Bags are given identity and deserve emotional attachment! Pretty clever. But my mind wanders to many days in the past.

When I first starting playing baseball, all the baseball clubs traveled by train, and some trips lasted two or three weeks. We were permitted to take large trunks, and yes, trunks traveled free. Later, when we traveled by plane, the bags were smaller, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Some of the veteran players (like Stan Musial) had wheels attached to their large trunks. Yes, that was way back when. By the way, it was hard for a train to lose a trunk and the food was excellent. On the train you had time to visit and enjoy life. It was a real experience. Some of the scenery was great. I think that even the young people today would enjoy going around “horseshoe bend” just before arriving at Pittsburgh. If you haven’t been to grand central station in New York City, you haven’t really lived. Enough of that already! Anyway, after arriving at the train station, I had to find my own trunk (which was located in the baggage car), carry it down the side of the train through the terminal and on to the street. From the street, I will hail a cab, load the trunk in the back of the cab, and ride to the Hotel. Then I would pay the cab driver, carry the heavy trunk up a long flight of steps into the lobby of the Hilton hotel. After securing the key to my room from our traveling secretary, I would be immediately besieged by bell hops who for a fee would gladly take the trunk to my room. Since the elevator was only a few feet away, this all seemed a bit unnecessary. I have been lugging this thing around all day! But not wanting to be rude or question the conventional wisdom, I allowed the young man to take the bag and rewarded him with a tip. I’m not sure just where this article is going, but I am sure that I just passed the “old as dirt” test.

Bags remind me of family--- traveling on vacation, visiting the folks on holidays, special trips, etc. In the summertime, many years ago, my wife and kids would pack up the car and join me for three months in a major league city (St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Kansas City). That car was packed to its fullest capacity. Thus, bags not only remind me of travel, but seeing friends and loved ones. Bags remind me of a lot of good times but also saying a lot of “good-bys.”

Bags remind me of history. They remind me of the first immigrants who came to America. Yes, those people came with trunks, bags and a lot of dreams for the future. Don’t you know they brought nothing but their most prized possessions. Yes, those ships contained a lot of valuable cargo. It would be neat to find one of those old trunks, recently discovered and unopened. I wonder what it would be worth at the antique show?

What about the pioneers of the old west? I love the history of the covered wagons journeying across the west containing both people and their most prized possessions. Don’t you know they sorted through a lot of things and took only the things they needed and could not do without? Yes, our history is told in bags. If only bags could talk.

Bags remind me of the transitory nature of life. There is a country song titled, “I’ve been everywhere man” and another song with the words, “We didn’t find it there so we moved on.” We need to understand that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. One spiritual song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”

Bags remind me of a lot of “hellos” and “good-bys”. We travel, visit people, and then we leave. I have done this hundreds of times. It is just the nature of life on earth. I suppose, if life is good, I will travel with bags a lot more in the future. Beginning the 20th of this month, Nancy and I plan to be on the road again making new friends and seeing new places from Texas to Florida and all states in between.

I do look forward to that glorious day when I will never again need to pack another bag . nor ever say “good bye” again. Someone has described life and all of human history as just one long journey for mankind. Those godly men who lived before Jesus Christ was born in the flesh were looking for a city whose builder and maker is God: “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-16). Peter referred to Christians as “aliens and strangers” as they make their journey on the earth (see I Peter 2:11). Thankfully for the Christian our hope extends beyond this physical life as the writer of Hebrews makes clear: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:22-25). The significance of these words ought never to be minimized. It is speaking of home, the real home of the soul, where men and women will find peace and rest from all of their labors. It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken of which every person who comes to trust in Jesus Christ is a partaker: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).

Well, folks, I always have to return to the main subject of these articles – the Lord Jesus Christ! And if you are going on a journey this summer, don’t forget to pack your bags.

P.S. Obviously I started writing this article last spring, when the old baseball heart goes to back to spring training and my many years in the game. The photo at the beginning of this article is one taken of myself on August 14, 2010 lifting the old trunk purchased in St. Louis in 1956. Nancy, my wife, only had to do eight retakes! Yes, I know I am not in pitching shape, so quit laughing.

Lindy McDaniel, May, 2011

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