This is a message that I spoke to the kids at outdoor school a couple of weeks ago. I change a bit of it to fit better to the audience and the format of it being a blog.
Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
There is a big debate out there among psychologists and people who have letters after their name and are a lot smarter than I am. The debate, maybe you have heard of it before is the “Nature vs. Nurture” debate. Essentially, the question being debated is: Are you a product of your environment, or is your personality pre-set before you are born based on your DNA. In other words, does your DNA dictate your personality or does everything around you-your parents, friends, school, teachers, pastors, etc. I don’t know what the answer is, like I said the debate is raging among people smarter than me, but I think that most people believe it is a both/and situation. Both our DNA, and our upbringing shape our personality.
What that means for us is that we all come with baggage. For some of us, the baggage is more obvious than others, but we all carry baggage.
I am not talking about your suitcases, rather emotional baggage. I found this definition of Emotional Baggage that I found to be rather fitting: “Painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from the past.” We all have emotional baggage, so if you are looking for someone who carries none, you are mistaken, and certainly don’t look at me.
Emotional baggage comes from millions of places, and what happens is that we get hurt from some one or something, and rather than just letting it go, we decide that we are going to pick that up and carry it around with us. And we go through life like this continuing to be hurt and continuing to carry different things, it affects us.
Have you ever tried running? I occasionally run, like from the car to my apartment, sometimes for exercise too. How well can you run if you are carrying a heavy suitcase? Not very well, when it comes to running, you generally want to find the lightest clothes you can wear so you can move around easier. There is nothing worse than your clothes getting in your way.
Check out Matthew 4:18: As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once the left their nets and followed him.
Now imagine with me, that they did not leave their nets. Simon looks at Peter and says, “Lets go,” Peter says, “What about the nets, the cost a lot of money,” Simon says, “We’ll take them with us.”
So everywhere they go, they carry their nets over their backs. After a while, they begin to realize there may have been a fish or two left in the nets…There was never a need to announce that they were coming, because people could always smell them coming.
That would get tiring. No, they left their baggage, and went to follow Jesus. I’m not saying that we need to be perfect when we come to Jesus, but leaving your baggage behind sure does help us follow him easier.
Baggage comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are good for long trips or shorter trip, some are good for overnight visits only, others are only meant to be to hold certain items separate from the rest of your baggage. Some baggage is so big, it is only meant for women to use, you know what I am talking about, the giant suitcase that holds all the other suitcases in the luggage set. Yeah, that is only meant for women to use. Men can fit all they need in the smaller bag.
Our emotional baggage comes in all shapes and sizes as well. For some of you, you carry around your parents divorce, or your own divorce. You keep thinking its your fault, and you could have stopped it, but that’s not true. Divorce is almost always a mutual decision reached by two partners, just as marriage is.
For others, the baggage comes in the form of words said to you:
“You’re not good enough”
“What were you thinking?”
I could go on and on about hurtful words.
By the way, whoever coined the phrase “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not have been more wrong. Words hurt much more than sticks and stones. The physical hurts heal after a short time, emotional wounds hurt deeper for much longer.
Maybe it’s not the words that were said to you, but the words that have not been said:
“I love you”
“You are beautiful”
“You are awesome!”
This type of baggage is so hard to lay down. Let me tell you a story, I was in high school and was dating this girl. Her is Sylvia and it was going great. We started dating around thanksgiving or so, and at Christmas break, she would not answer the phone, or talk to me at all. So when school started again, I was kind of curious about what was going on. I tried talking to her, but she avoided me. Then one day, after school in a classroom full of people she came up to me and started screaming at me and cussing saying all kinds of horrible things. That is how she broke up with me. I carried that baggage for a long time before setting it down.
Baggage can come in the form of rejection. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, lost a job due to the economy, or performance, maybe you were rejected by a love interest, or member of your family. The pain of rejection stings.
Baggage can come in the form of our past. A messed up childhood, abuse in your home, or a relationship gone sour, or betrayal of a friend are all examples of our past being a form of baggage.
Whatever your baggage is, God is calling you today to set it down and allow him to take it over. Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all 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 you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
What Jesus is saying here is, “come to me, let me take your baggage, and I’ll give you my bags, they are easy to carry and will help you along your journey”. When you surrender your baggage to Jesus, you set it down and decide you are not going to carry it around any more, He’ll give you something better.
I’ve been hiking a couple of times. I’m not talking day hikes, where you go on a little trail and it goes in a circle, and you go home. I’m talking out in the mountains for days at a time. When you do that, you have to carry everything you need for survival with you, on your back. Your sleeping bag, food, water, tent, clothes, water filter, everything you need. It gets heavy and hard to carry. I’m talking about packs that were literally 50-75 pounds. We would walk for hours with our packs on, sometimes 5-6 hours just walking. When you stop walking, you don’t take your pack off, because it takes too much energy to take off and put back on. Let me tell you something, you can be so tired of walking that you think you can’t take another step. Then you find the place where you are going to set up camp, and you take that pack off, and it is a huge rush of energy.
When you allow God to take these burdens from you-your baggage, you can follow him anywhere, no matter how you felt when you were carrying that baggage. Then something really cool happens, you can open up that baggage and see what it was that weighed you down, and you discover that it can help you and others along the path. You see, things that I have been through in my life help others on their way.
What kind of baggage have you been carrying that you are ready to lay down? Put it at God’s feet today, and trade with Him. His load is easy, and his burden is light.
God, thank you for your promises. I want to trade burdens with you. I want you to take my heavy burdens and I will take yours. Please help me to heal from painful experience and forgive those who have hurt me. In Jesus Name, Amen.