God is acquainted well with every square inch of the baggage we each carry. My baggage is the same as her baggage is the same as your baggage, and so on. Someone’s baggage may look more beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, it is still filled with sin.
I was dusting off some vintage luggage I purchased some years ago to go with the travel theme that now competes with the bird theme in my home. Occasionally the old beauties get borrowed for showers and weddings. They are pretty awesome, I must confess.
When I dust them, I wonder where they have been. Did they stay in a closet requiring the occasional dusting as they do in my home, or did they hold treasures from afar? Did they see the world with their owners and acquire those scuffs from an airport conveyor belt or a thoughtless baggage handler having a bad day? Maybe their owners were road warriors driving Route 66 in an old Bel Air convertible. Whose name and address was written on that little piece of paper on the luggage tag before its new address was my home? Did it ever get lost in its travels? Oh, if those satin hounds tooth pockets in my treasured suitcases could talk!
As my mind continued to ponder during this necessary task of dusting, my heart was also pricked about a time I made a less than gracious comment to my hubby about someone we were genuinely wanting to help: “Man, that gal is carrying a lot of baggage.” There it was, in my heart and out of my lips, just like that.
Thankfully, my Beloved helped me to reroute my arrogant thinking. God is so kind to have given someone who lovingly shepherds my heart. He looked at me and said, “Sweetie, let’s not forget, we all have baggage. Her baggage just looks different than your baggage in some ways. Some ways it is the same. But thankfully, God and the gospel are much more powerful than the baggage we carry.”
Let’s Face It, We All Have Baggage
There is no one that has escaped the curse of the Fall. We all carry with us the mark of Adam, the first human sinner, within our hearts. We are filled with our own sin; we are also surrounded by it no matter where we came from or where we go.
Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.”
Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
You see, in respect to all mankind, my baggage is the same as her baggage is the same as your baggage and so on. We all started off on this journey with the heart of Adam. Someone’s baggage may look more beautiful on the outside, but on the inside it is still filled with sin.
But let’s unpack this a bit more, shall we?
Unpacking Life’s Influences and Experiences
While we all carry with us the weight of original sin. We also carry with us life experiences, choices, and influences:
- Some Joyful
- Some Simple
- Some Shameful
- Some Heartbreaking
- Some Devastating
- All Providential
Elisabeth Elliot, “It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while He is the end of our journey, He is also at every stopping place.”
Tucked away in this baggage, we also carry with us “heart compartments” filled with innumerable, often quite memorable, “issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). God in His providential love for us has allowed these moments, choices, and influences to take place in order to mold us and shape us for His purposes, which leads to His main purpose: His glory.
God gave Jeremiah a beautiful illustration showing His heart for unrepentant Israel and how He has the right to mold and shape us for His purposes.
Jeremiah 19:1-6, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”
God Uses Baggage
Like Israel, God has ordained and fashioned our lives very carefully and specifically. He is also acquainted well with every square inch of the baggage we each carry. Even the tiniest “heart pocket” we carry is known intimately by our Creator, no matter how cleverly we think we may tuck those thoughts and sins within our baggage:
Psalm 139:7-12, “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”
Now, suppose we regarded all the scuffs, all the wear and tear of this life we grip so tightly to and hide from others so skillfully more as opportunities to open up and share our comfort and hope in Christ through this life’s journey?
2 Corinthians 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”
The load we carry ourselves and for others can be quite heavy, dear sister. But we are to be carrying our so-called baggage to a place where we are sure to receive help. We are to carry it to the throne of grace:
Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Paul continued in 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 giving an example of the baggage he and his companions were carrying as burdensome and perilous, that it was beyond their strength and it was clear they were to place their trust in God who was their hope:
2 Corinthians 1:8-10, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.”
Like Paul, we are to set our hope on THE. ONLY. ONE. who will deliver us. God is capable of raising the dead to life; He can most certainly carry our life’s burdens, a.k.a baggage:
1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Paul also mentioned along with God’s help was also given to them on their journey in Asia through the prayers of the saints. This is so very important. No matter what someone’s baggage may look like, we all need prayer!
Bringing it Home
Just as my vintage luggage had a tag that once carried someone’s home address on it in case it somehow lost its way, we also must be able to take our baggage safely to a place of practical life application so that God receives all the glory:
- Are you confessing your sins to others so that they may come alongside you, or are you stuffing it in your baggage, becoming more and more weighed down? (James 5:16; Psalm 32:1-5)
- Do you model the gospel by gladly bearing the burdens of fellow image-bearers? (Gal 6:1-2) Do you see someone carrying a heavy load and run the other way, or do you bring care to their weary soul?
- Are you taking your needs boldly before the throne of grace? Are you praying for the burdens others are bearing?
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones’ excellent book, Spiritual Depression says:
“Never look back; never waste your time in the present; never waste your energy; forget the past and rejoice in the fact that you are what you are by the grace of God, and that in the Divine alchemy of His marvelous grace you may yet have the greatest surprise of your life and existence and find that even in your case it will come to pass that the last shall be first. Praise God for the fact you are what you are, and that you are in the Kingdom.”