I love travelling, but I usually only get excited when the packing begins. If you are flying, whether local or internationally, the check in counter is the start of the trip. They always ask you at the counter: “Do you have excess baggage?” Usually, I am holding thumbs that our bags are not over the limit, having stuffed as much into them as possible. All that I need and all that I don’t need. I usually have too much. The next thing they ask is: “Did you pack it yourself?”
Did you pack it yourself?
We want to say. “Of course.” Yet, it is quite amusing to me, because in actual fact, many of us carry around excess baggage as we travel through life. We carry it around in our soul, and we probably packed it ourselves!
Excess baggage is expensive for life, it weighs us down. When we travel with excess baggage we are characteristically exhausted by having to carry all this extra stuff around. Most of what we have packed is unnecessary for our life purpose, but we packed it in, thinking it is required or believing we are not ready to leave it behind.
Saul, Israel’s first king, carried excess baggage; he had emotional and physical baggage. In 1 Sam 10:20-24, when they are looking to crown him king, he is found hiding amongst the baggage (True story – check it out!) It just shows that we may have the spirit of a King on us, but we hide amongst our baggage. Saul’s baggage was that he had a deep-seated inferiority complex from his past; he thought his family was “least among the clans” (1 Sam 9:21) and from a small place. This inferiority complex would plague him during much of his reign.
What is excess baggage? Anything you carry around that drags you down and prevents you from fulfilling your purpose.
Usually, something that you should leave behind because it is not good for you.
What kind of excess baggage do we carry around?
- The excess baggage of past relationships: people that have hurt us in the past, and it causes us to be distrustful of other people. Perhaps we are now single, or divorced, or a friend betrayed us. Maybe we suffer from neglect or criticism we experienced in the past or profound emotional abuse. Either way, our past experiences have shaped the person we are today and this baggage prevents us from moving into new relationships and new people that God wants to bring into our lives.
- The baggage of hurts and disappointments: – baggage exists in all situations and all social groups. No matter where we go in life, if we have expectations of people (whether valid or not), we may be disappointed or even hurt. People don’t always behave as they should, and hurting people usually hurt other people. This results in baggage. We live in a world of broken people, and all of us need Jesus! Jesus is the source of healing for all emotional scars and pain, but it requires that we come to Him for that healing, to find rest for our souls.
“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” (Matt 11:28-30)
- The baggage of offenses. In the last decade, the term “snowflake” has developed as a derogatory term for people who think they are particularly unique and special. It describes a person with an unwarranted sense of entitlement, overly emotional and easily offended. A snowflake believes that their status as unique and special means that they are destined for great success or deserve a special career, with abundant praise and admiration. When this does not happen, as life turns out, they are deeply offended and may then take it out on the people around them. Just as people with excess hand luggage affect the travel experience of people around them, the baggage we collect because we are offended, or because people do not treat us as we expect, affects our relationships with others. There are opportunities to be offended everyday, so if we are constantly going to collect baggage, it is going to be a very unpleasant trip. This baggage needs to be forgiven and left behind.
- The excess baggage of a bitter spirit. The Newsboys have a song ‘Million Pieces,’ and the lyrics go: “Why you holdin’ grudges in old jars? Why you wanna show off all your scars? What’s it gonna take to lay a few burdens down?” Some of us still carry grudges and hurts against people that hurt us as far back even, as high school. Grudges can be held against churches, employers, partners, children, and extended family. These grudges that are unforgiven, poison any new relationship that may develop, the original offense, having grown “a bitter root” and undermining or destroying any new relationship we may enter into.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb 12:15)
- The excess baggage of secret sin – sin that is only known to you… and God. You have decided to not get rid of it, which makes it like a sweet fruit that you keep in your suitcase. It will go rotten. As it starts to decompose your life and you still keep it, even if it causes your life to stink, it starts being noticed by others eventually. Secret sin adds no value to the journey of our life, it weighs us down and it is best to do as Heb 12:1b-2 (NLT) tells us to …
“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith..”
- The excess baggage of rebellion. Have you ever taken a suitcase from someone promising that you can manage it, only to find that as you carry it, it gets heavier and heavier. But still, we think we know better and stubbornly stick to our baggage. We rebel against the advice and guidance that is given us, because we firmly want our own way. God gives us clear guidance in His Word on what is good for us, but we rebel against His guidelines, stubbornly sticking to what we think is right. We may foolishly believe that it can’t be “that bad” for us, or “what harm can it bring.” Our logic (or wisdom in our own eyes) does not justify rebellion. You may continue on your journey, but the journey will become unpleasant. God will allow you to carry it, but it will become heavier and heavier because it is not God’s design for our lives, or our journey. Even if we can “make it work,” it does not mean that God approves or that it is right for you, the rebellion will cost you later on.
The question then is, “Did you pack that yourself?”
- What excess baggage are you carrying around that is slowing you down, tiring you out, costing you, weighing you down, hampering you, and making you lose out on opportunities that are good for you?
- Excess baggage needs to be cleaned out. It means that we need to open our souls, take a good look and leave whatever is excess in our souls behind once and for all.
It is time to throw off that which hampers your race for the Lord.
Lord, thank you for bringing to my attention what I am carrying with me in life. I do not often think about what I carry with me that affects my journey in life. I have never considered it as excess and not Your design for me. Help me to put the excess away, to learn my lessons, and finish with my excess baggage. Help me only to take that which is necessary for the life and purpose You have designed for my life.
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