Surrendering Burdens of Baggage
Over the years, I've certainly learned how to be a better packer when I prepare for trips. When I was little boy my mom would line out everything on my bed that was necessary to stow away in my backpack and suitcase. She would remember everything from my toothbrush to an extra pair of underwear, that were very important! Once I started to get older and into my teens--and a bit more prideful--I would hurry and pack my own things. I, of course, would frequently forgot the extra pair of underwear that was very important! I may have remembered the toothbrush, but I would frequently forgot the toothpaste! I've definitely been on the side of error where I didn't pack enough.
I've also been on the other side where I pack too much--I'm sure you can relate! Every year, my family and I travel to Glacier National Park and bring everything, including the kitchen sink! You'd think we packed to stay for several months. One year, as we loaded the truck with our excessive totes and bags, our neighbors asked where we were going. We enthusiastically replied, "Glacier!" They added, "For how long, a few weeks?" We, humorously replied, "No, just two nights!"
We can all relate to our suitcases and duffle-bags, our totes and kitchen sink. These are all things that are visible. But, what about our invisible baggage? What about our suitcase of regret we pull around? The shoulder-bag of discontent we carry to work? The overnight backpack of doubt? The exhausting trunk of loneliness and fear? These, and many like them, are burdens we carry daily that weigh us down physically, mentally, and spiritually. No wonder we can't wait to hit our head against the pillow at night! Carrying baggage is hard work!
What "bags" trouble you the most? Which one may be the heaviest? Which bag might be empty filled with hopelessness?
We don't need to carry all the baggage we do, but we do it anyways. Why do you think we carry baggage we don't need to bear? More often than not, we're not only carrying our own baggage, but the baggage of others. I have caught myself piling on the burdens of others. It's easy to make other people's happiness my priority--other people's problems my challenge to tackle. So I throw on a few more duffles of problems and struggle forward and push on. I've learned this is a losing battle. I have a hard enough time with my own baggage! Why do we insist on carrying so much baggage?
In his book, Traveling Light, Max Lucado shares how God desires to take all our baggage and our heavy burdens so we may travel light--so we may enjoy the quality of life that Jesus died for us to live without carrying burdens that we were never meant to carry. Traveling light means trusting God with the burdens we were never meant to bear.
So what does it mean to trust God wholly with a burden? How do we do this? I think it starts by looking at what the Bible instructs and what Jesus taught. An important fact about dealing with baggage and burdens is that Jesus invites us to give them to Him. He welcomes us with arms open wide lay down everything and give it all to Him.
Matthew 11:28 NLT
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
What promises does Jesus give to those who respond to His invitation? Rest! We should do all in our power and might to respond to this invitation constantly. It takes work to surrender. It takes work to trust. It takes intentionality and tenacity. We tend to trust ourselves more than God. We trust ourselves to take care of our own doubts, our worries, our pain and regret. All the while, God is standing there, pleading for us to accept His invitation of rest.
1 Peter 5:7 NLT
Give all your worries to God, for He cares about you.
It's pretty clear what this verse instructs us to do. And the reason for this instruction? God cares. God cares about you. Give your worries to Him. Pray out loud and release their grip in your life. When we give words to the baggage and strongholds of worry in our hearts they start to lose their grip and weight .
Here is an exercise we did in one of our TFL Small Group, I think you will like it:
Spend at least a half-hour in prayer each day this week. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any burdens you need to lay down. Use a piece of paper and pen while you pray. Write down any burdens the Lord brings to mind.
Once you have a clear list of the burdens that most weigh you down, one by one, commit these items to the Lord in prayer. As you pray for each concern, tear it off your sheet of paper and throw it in the trash, signifying your letting go of the each burden and trusting it to God.
Surrender to God all that you are. Release your burdens and live an encouraged and positive life that is free in Jesus.
But remember, this does not give us the right to just sit back with our feet crossed.
"We need to act as if it all depends on us, but pray like it all depends on God." Mark Batterson