Emotional Baggage Claim

Emotional BaggageIt’s an all too familiar scene after each flight we take. No sooner do the wheels hit the tarmac, and travel weary passengers erupt into life as if each seat injected its comatose passengers with 5cc’s of epinephrine. Nervous apologies are made as people compulsively burst from their seats and start yanking their bags and belongings from the overhead compartments. Throats nervously cleared. Passive aggressive (some outright aggressive) elbows are thrown. Knees are knocked. Heads are clonked. The frenzy is just beginning.

Eyes glazed over, the dazed and confused passengers stampede toward the baggage claim like hogs to the slaughter. I think I’ve even heard a few oinks and squeals along the way! The first few to arrive look a little bewildered as they attempt to confirm which magical carousel will jettison their precious cargo. With anticipation that rivals Christmas Morning, passengers feverishly alternate their glances between their watches, clocks on the wall, and the screens above. While some have transfixed their gaze upon their hallowed cellphone as if it were a crystal ball revealing the lottery numbers from this week’s Power Ball.

Welcome to Baggage Claim!

I’ll admit it’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, and even the competition of disembarking the plane to get to your meeting, start your vacation, or to fall into the warm embrace of those who may be anxiously awaiting your arrival.

While this scene alone is ripe with allegories, analogies, and metaphors, I’d like to share some thoughts about a baggage claim of another sort.

Your Baggage is Heavier Than You Think

Baggage comes in many shapes, sizes, and capacities. This holds true for physical baggage AND emotional baggage. Somewhere along your life’s travels, you’ve acquired a great many “souvenirs.” Events, both good and bad, all leave unique imprints upon you, your mind, your heart, even your entire outlook on life. Unresolved pain, unresolved issues, and pent up feelings of anger, resentment, or bitterness, can start to become part of the baggage we carry around. The sad irony is, this baggage can subtly grow so heavy over a period of time, that we don’t even realize the weight we’ve been carrying around until, and this is important, we set it down.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

“Setting it down” can mean a lot of things. For the purpose of this post’s theme, we will call it “checking our baggage.” When we “check” our baggage, we present it before someone; an attendant. They inquire about the contents, they determine the weight, you pay a price, and they whisk it away until you reach your next destination.

We’ve personally checked in baggage before that exceeded normal weight limits. Of course these limits are established by the airline, but our own capacity to carry things we have no business carrying seems to grow. It’s often not until we place it on a scale, that we realize the true weight of what we’ve been carrying for who knows how long.

Checking your baggage every once in a while is healthy. In fact, we’ve had so many surprises at the airport check-in, we purchased a scale of our own to determine how heavy our baggage is. We don’t like surprises. Routinely checking in on your own baggage with a trusted friend, counselor, pastor, or mentor, are excellent ways of ensuring your baggage isn’t interfering with your ability to grow, thrive, and even excel.

Airlines use a pre-flight checklist to check and re-check every safety aspect of their planes. Our lives, and the lives of our loved ones depend on it. They check it so they don’t wreck it! Being excessively weighed down by baggage (and too many passengers – life has those too) can inhibit an airplane’s ability to safely take-off, reach altitude, and safely land. The emotional weight of your baggage can in like manner adversely affect your ability to take-off, reach your potential, and to safely arrive at your destination of a fulfilled and purposeful life in Christ.

“Let ‘er Rip!”

old luggage cartNow in our mid-forties, there’s a terrific service at some of the airports we frequent, that we’ve started to use. These big strapping fellows who are all too willing to toss your bags up on these luggage carts and push them right up to the counter, your shuttle, or your car. For a nice tip, they’re friendly enough and will point you in the right direction of a good restaurant, hotel, or area attractions.

1 Peter 5:6 – 8 instructs us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour…”

The Greek word here for “casting” comes from the root word “rhipto” or phonetically said, “rip-toe” which means to hurl forcefully. I like to think Peter was saying, like we would in our post-modern vernacular, “Let ‘er rip!” This phrase is a little dated, but basically is said when someone is about to launch something.

Could it be that Peter, a couple thousand years earlier would have realized our propensity for carrying things around we have no business carrying? Could it also be that Peter, during his early days with Christ, realized his own innate inclination toward carrying around things that interfered with his walk with the Lord? These verses provide us with such tremendous spiritual insight into how best to handle the baggage that causes us so much heartbreak. But, according to Peter, one of the preconditions to being afforded this powerful privilege is humility.

Lower Before You Launch

Before we can ever expect to launch, we must be willing to lower ourselves; humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When you humble yourself under His Hand, it will literally allow God to give you a hand, not just any hand, His Hand! It will be His Hand that will carry the seemingly insurmountable weight of your grief, your pain, your sorrow, your anxiety, your fears, your worries; all your care! And, it will be His Hand that will “exalt you in due time.” That word “exalt” means to restore your dignity, your honor, and your rightful place in Him.

Like those big brawny lads at the airport that magically appear at your trunk as you’re unloading your baggage, Jesus is lovingly there saying, “Hey toss that over here! I got this!” You may wince, like we do sometimes when we think about how heavy our bags are before the guys pick them up, but you never for a moment have to doubt that Jesus can take it. He’s more than proven Himself. He overcame Death and Hell…it’s safe to say Jesus can handle anything else you “throw” His way!

Music to Your Ears

When we check our baggage with the Lord, it would behoove us all to, in the in the now infamous and lyrically addictive words of Elsa in the Disney Movie “Frozen,” Let it go…let it go!

Upon your arrival to God’s Divine purpose and calling for your life, don’t compulsively run over to baggage claim like a moth to a flame to look for your bags to pick them up again. The words of the old spiritual song are never truer than at this moment, “Leave them there…leave them there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there!”

Once we give it to God, don’t lay claim to it any longer. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant.” The enemy is diabolical and deceitful. He will try to deliver the old baggage of your past in a brand new fancy bag with a bright red bow. Do not take delivery. Do not sign for it. Don’t let your neighbor sign for it. Don’t even allow Satan to leave it on your front porch! Since I’m apparently closing with a musical theme here, the words of that 1962 Elvis Presley song come to mind, “Return to sender…address unknown!”

You may think you’re fooling everyone by nap-sacking your issues and trying to inconspicuously tote them around, but like the little child who covers her eyes thinking no one can see her; someone sees. That someone is Jesus and He’s given us all an invitation today, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28 – 30)

The Answer is Still Hope

Daily we’re bombarded in the media with disturbing headlines…

  • Gradually, the freedoms of our nation are being chiseled away in the name of security.
  • Our unemployment rate is at an all-time high, while the value of our dollar is at an all-time low.
  • Consumer confidence is at an all-time low, while prices for things are at an all-time high.
  • The divorce rate is at an all-time high.
  • The murders, shootings, and stabbings, litter the front page of every morning paper.
  • Abortion continues to be legal.
  • Political corruption is rampant in our government officials.
  • The Muslims have declared war on the western world
  • The US has declared war on terrorist countries
  • Iran wants to bomb Israel off the map
  • There’s genocide being committed in the Dar Fur region
  • Every day we hear about famines and droughts taking lives
  • Natural disasters, rather than bringing out the best in people, have brought out the worst, with looting, pillaging, price gouging, and hidden political agendas.
  • Every day another drug deal goes bad
  • Every day another child dies in a drive-by shooting
  • Every day another school or place of business gets shot-up
  • Every day another terrorist threat is discovered
  • The children and the elderly in our country continue to get the short end of the stick
  • Justice seems to favor the criminal
  • Our prisons are over-crowded
  • People are losing their homes
  • Banks are going out of business

Yet, everyday people get up and do their dead-level best to keep their chin up. The odds never seem to be in their favor. What on earth (or in Heaven) could ever breath hope back into people’s lives? What if anything could remedy the pain of feeling of being violated?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” I Co. 15:19.

  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political figure…
  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political system…
  • This world doesn’t need more money, more programs, or more tax breaks…
  • This world doesn’t need more change, just for the sake of change, what this world needs is HOPE!

Peter said in his first epistle (3:15) – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The answer is hope! Let’s point people to the real hope that spans beyond this world – it’s the hope that drew Christ to the Cross at Calvary…YOU!

As long as there are “YOU’s” in this world, there is hope…

  • People whose lives have been forever changed
  • People who have been given a reason to carry on
  • People who have drank from the freely from the well and now have living water flowing from their own souls
  • People who have everlasting joy and peace
  • People who have hope

While hope is one of the greatest of all commodities on the planet it’s futile if it’s not shared with others. People everywhere are waiting, knowingly or unknowingly, to hear a message of hope.

If you’re born again of the water and of the Spirit, you contain the hope that humanity needs in earthen vessels. Let’s not withhold this hope from mankind.

Jesus read a passage in Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Jesus was the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy, but today, the Spirit of the Lord is not just “upon” us…He’s in us; reaching out to a lost and hurting world through us! It’s up to us to complete the mission Jesus started, until the day of His return!

Living by the Sword…of the Spirit

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matt. 26:52) Jesus commanded Peter to put the sword in its place. Do you have the Word of God or the “Sword of the Spirit” in its rightful place? We obtain Eternal Life by that Sword, and our flesh is to “die daily” by that same Sword; cutting away carnality, yet being clothed in humility.

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold

How Christians Can Thrive in Any Work Environment

1.  Don’t expect to be appreciated.  Your only expectation should be to get a paycheck.  Don’t come to work to have personal relationships.  Don’t allow what you do to affect who you are.

2.  Do your job well, but remember your mission.  God put you there to be a Light.

3.  Seek opportunities to change the atmosphere without commenting on the problems.  You have a God to talk to.  You are on an assignment.  Quietness and competence shall be your strength.

4.  Don’t let your environment get inside of you.  You should influence it, not let it influence you.  Stop going to work to be fed.  You didn’t come to receive, you came to give.  Remember to Whom you belong.

5.  Increase your capacity to work with different personalities.  (They are doing this with you.)  God will often bless you through people you don’t even like!

6.  Remember where you are does not define where you are going.  This will deliver you from frustration.  God has a plan for your life.  Keep your eye on the prize. When Peter did this, he was able to walk in what made other people sink!

7.  Get the optimum results with minimal confusion.  Be effective without making the environment worse; don’t deliberately cause commotion with your personal issues.

8.  Don’t be associated with one group or clique.  Labels limit your usefulness.  God wants you to work with everybody but be labeled by nobody.  Use all your God-given gifts.

9.  Always keep your song near you.  Do what you should when nobody is watching or will ever know.  Hold on to your Priority and let it shine!

10. Understand that God anoints you for trouble.  Put on the whole armour of God before going to work.

Also remember…

  • Psalm 75: 6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
  • Proverbs 18:16 –  A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.  
  • Matthew 25:23 – His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
  • Galatians 6:9 – And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.