It’s an all too familiar scene after each flight we take. No sooner do the wheels hit the tarmac than 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 fixed their gaze upon their hallowed cellphone as if it were a crystal ball revealing the lottery numbers from this week’s Powerball.
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 article, we will call it “checking our baggage.” When we “check” our baggage, we present it before someone—an attendant. They inquire about the contents, 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 land. The emotional weight of your baggage can, in like manner, adversely affect your ability to take-off, reach your potential, and to arrive safely at your destination of a fulfilled life of purpose in Christ Jesus.
“Let ‘er Rip!”
Now in our mid-forties, there’s a terrific service at some of the airports we frequent 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: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. 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
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! The words of a well-known Elvis Presley song come to mind, “Return to sender…address unknown!”
You may think you’re fooling everyone by knapsacking 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. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).