Checked baggage

I have to admit I’ve started to allow an old dark part of my past come back to roost. It’s an area I thought I was free from long ago, after several reality-inducing, deeply wounding experiences finally caused me to hit rock-bottom, after which I vowed to never again allow myself to fall in the same way. It affected my wife (although fortunately not our kids) and she too ultimately interceded to ensure we would never again let ourselves or our marriage undergo the same suffrage again. What possible dark world was sucking me back in?

I’ve started checking my baggage on airline flights again. There. I got it out. I hope you don’t think the less of me because of it.

What in the world would convince me to check baggage when the entire world knows the anguish of inevitably lost bags, which go to the far-reaches of planet earth when we intend to fly from southern California to, say, San Francisco? Why would I entrust my critical and irreplaceable belongings to the care of others who don’t care? Whether you agree with the logic or not, here’s the thinking … and it fits with the reflection I drew this last week (really, last two weeks since I didn’t get a chance to finish my message last week).

First off, a lot of time, my bag is heavy. It’s stocked full with stuff that ultimately weighs me down and slows me down when it comes to getting from place to place, getting on and off the plane, getting to my seat, etc. In reflection after the ton of travel I did this past summer, I often put things in the bag that I don’t need and wind up not using … it just becomes superfluous and doesn’t add to my trip. Second, there are people there at the airline who are ready, willing, and often eager to take the bag from me and carry it for me. Third, notwithstanding that bags do occasionally get misplaced and mishandled, for the most part the people taking the bag from me have the capacity to carry it, know how to handle it much better than I do, and ultimately know where the bag is supposed to wind up eventually.

This week as I read through the New Testament, I covered 2 Corinthians 5 to Galatians 4. During the progression through these powerful letters written by Paul, I was reminded of the need we all have to check our baggage, in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 …

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Paul is reminding us of an indispensible fact. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, He gives us a new life in exchange. More than that, he makes us a new person. It’s a completely fresh start.

The problem is, however, I spend time holding on to my past, allowing my “old” self to continue to exist … at times seeking to revive that old self, the old experiences, the old attitudes, the old pain, the old shame, the old shortcomings. I carry all those around like a suitcase, stuffed full. It’s not just the fact that the contents are unneeded that is problematic, it’s also the fact that I spend much of my effort and carry much of the burden of being unwilling to relinquish that suitcase.

Yet, there is Someone there, ready and willing to take that baggage from me and safeguard it for me. That very same Person is willing to ensure it finds its proper destination, has the capacity to carry it, and knows how to do it far better than I do. Instead, I prefer to carry that bag around with me, irrelevant and unhelpful contents and all. All I have to do is turn it over to the other Person, and trust Him to safeguard it for me.

We all have such a suitcase. It may be full of fear, hurt, pain or even lies we’ve allowed our enemy the devil to tell us and maybe even into which he’s talked us to believing. It could be full of feelings we’ve concluded about ourselves from insensitive things people have said to us in the past. It might contain the disappointment of broken relationships. Perhaps it consists of bad habits, bad behaviors or bad addictions to which we feel bound.

The thing is, we don’t need to carry that baggage. It’s old and of no use any longer, because those old contents aren’t ours any more. We’re “a new person” with new identities because of the special free gift of Jesus. Yet we continue to hold onto it and keep it close. Check it in with the Helper … He knows how to handle the baggage. There’s nothing in it that we need to hold onto.

Let’s pray and ask God to remind us that we don’t have to be defined by what’s in the baggage. Let’s ask Him to take the baggage away and let us check it in … old stuff and all. Let’s ask Him to show us all the ways He’s made each one of us a new person in Christ, and for the strength to believe that we truly are new. Let’s ask Him to hold onto the baggage indefinitely … we won’t be needing it.

Let it go. Check it in. We have no business carrying that baggage.

Soli Deo gloria!

MR

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