What's in your bag?
Don't take a traveling bag for the trip, a change of clothes, sandals, or a walking stick. After all, the worker deserves to have his needs met. -from God's Word Translation
Where I live in North Carolina, USA, right now it's summer and it is hot. Traveling season is in full swing. And, each traveler must make decisions about all sorts of stuff that could go into his or her luggage. Each must even choose what goes on their luggage as they add a name tag to help identify the bag. Decisions, decisions.
Then Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, traveling bag, or sandals, you didn't lack anything did you?” “Not a thing!” they answered.
People carry with them emotional, spiritual, and physical baggage, too. Emotional baggage could come from an experience such as losing a family member, a beloved pet, or a life-long dream. Spiritual baggage could come from having a faith crises as the pieces of life seem to be unraveling.
Physical baggage could be challenges a person was born with or had happen later in life. Some of my physical baggage includes scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. As a young teen I had to go through the whole process of wearing a clumsy and visible back brace. Later on in my life I've had to deal with a broken shoulder that even now has good days and bad that I have to work around.
My husband had to deal with losing his dad when he was still in high school. Later, while he was still in college, his mom passed away. Sometimes dealing with excess baggage in one's life is nowhere as quick and easy a thing as setting aside that extra pair of shoes you think you can do without. Dealing with baggage can take time and other people who will come alongside to help us and support us for the way ahead.
I remember having to pack for the trip to my younger brother's graduation from the Air Force Academy a long time ago. We were to fly from Asheville, North Carolina to Colorado for the ceremony. I told my husband that I had packed too much. And I was right; the luggage and clothing became something we had to endure on the trip. We ended up worrying about whether or not our luggage would actually survive the flight home. We felt fortunate when we and the luggage arrived home more or less intact.
I've learned that people have to learn how to pack, and that for about any type of trip you take you will find packing lists available. Although I do not like to use lists I do spend time trying to think through what I know I will probably need and what I will probably not need, thus only packing essentials. Overpacking my bag might even cause me to end up forgetting what is most necessary, such as medicines and travel documents.
Sometimes packing up is no fun at all. That was the case in an unexpected move that I had to make in the middle of my senior year in high school. Our family home sold sooner than expected when my dad had taken a new job in another city. I remember happily coming home from a karate class one night, only to find my mom and the realtor ecstatic that our house had just sold! I was not ecstatic, to say the least. I was terrified, angry, and in shock.
We ended up having to move to an apartment and packing up most of our stuff to go into storage. We celebrated Christmas early that year so my dad could go on ahead to start his new job.
When we were able to move to the new city, we packed things up to unpack once again when we arrived at a hotel where we would stay while waiting to move into our new house. We lived out of our suitcases at the hotel until our new home was finally ready for us. Meanwhile, I was starting at a new high school where all the other Seniors seemed to have known each other forever and have little space for a new, short term friendship with me. That move and the unsettledness that came along with it seemed to define my senior year and beyond. Unfortunately, remnants of the move are still part of my life's baggage.
One thing I've discovered is that the baggage we carry with us can itself become like an idol to us and keep us from growing and healing. That is not God's way. The way of God is always light.
“You might be needing forgiveness before the day is out. Stoop down, and reach out to those who are oppressed. We are called to help “share their burdens, and in doing so, complete the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-3, from the Message Bible
Some of the ways I have found to unpack “baggage” are:
- listening to music
- What is some of the baggage that you are carrying with you?
- How can you unpack in a safe and helpful way?
- Who can you speak with to help you get through your unpacking?
- Who can pray with you during those times the baggage seems really heavy and too much to bear?
I will leave you with a link to and the words of a song, “No, Never Alone,” that often helps to lighten my load:
I’ve seen the lightning flashing, And heard the thunder roll; I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing, Trying to conquer my soul; I’ve heard the voice of Jesus, Telling me still to fight on; He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone.
No, never alone, No, never alone, He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone; No, never alone, No, never alone, He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone.
Marci McGowan has been active in helping with the Leadership Team of DisciplesNet Church since 2010, and regularly contributes her work to share with our DisciplesNet viewers. She is a graphic artist, housekeeper, and writer, and makes her home in Asheville, North Carolina, USA with her husband and faithful dog Buddy.
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