Have you ever had to carry a heavy suitcase or bag through the airport? My arm is just aching thinking about the times in the past I have had to fly with my family. When you have small children, you need to hire a moving company just to help you go visit the grandparents. I can still remember walking through the airport carrying a diaper bag, a toy bag, a book bag, and a sippy cup (because my child kept throwing it on the floor) — all the while pushing a stroller.
When I finally arrived at my terminal, I would collapse under the mound of baby paraphernalia. The worst part, however, was trying to walk down the narrow aisles of the airplane carrying six bags, a child, and a fold-up stroller. Do you know how hard it is to avoid hitting people sitting in their seats when your arms are overloaded with all that baggage?
You find yourself apologizing every other seat: “Excuse me. I’m sorry my stroller clipped your head. I’ll ask the flight attendant for a band aid…Oh, did I knock you down? I’m terribly sorry…Um, excuse me, but could you please hand me that pacifier that fell between your feet. Thanks a lot and I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”
Can you visualize this picture with me? Have you been there before? You know you will have fun once you get to your destination, but the baggage sure does make it a tough journey sometimes.
Our baggage from the past sure can slow us down sometimes. It is hard enough to get through an airport carrying a ton of baggage, but it is even tougher getting through life with it.
The apostle Paul even realized his own tendency to sometimes hang onto or dwell too much on the past. In the book of Philippians though, he committed himself to “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” He said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).
Paul was comparing the Christian life to a race. He was disciplining himself and urging others to fix their eyes on the finish and run as to win the prize. Paul knew that one could not run effectively while holding onto baggage. This is why he said to forget what is behind.
There are times in our relationship with God that we must choose to drop some of the baggage we are holding onto if we are going to fully press on toward the finish. This baggage in our lives can take many forms: unforgiveness and grudges from the past, hidden sin or disobedience to God, broken relationships, old wounds, self-hatred and shame, etc. Such baggage can greatly hinder our walk with God.
I am not saying these things are easy to let go of. If they were, many would have dropped them long ago. With God’s help and healing grace, we can begin to let go of the baggage that is slowing us down in our lives and our relationship with Jesus. Perhaps even a few of you may even want to seek the counsel of your clergy or a counselor. We do not need to seek to walk this journey of healing alone. We need others, and others will need us. Seeking the help of others is not weakness, but wisdom.
Wouldn’t it be nice to finish up strong in the most important race? Or will you will be struggling to the finish line with baggage in hand? May the Holy Spirit give you the grace and power to drop the baggage and press on toward the goal to win the prize. And that’s the word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.