Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

No Baggage Required

“This is heavy” I thought, as I heaved the piece of luggage away from me again. I felt tired and my arms were achy. I couldn’t carry it any longer. I continued to cram item after item into this suitcase until it could barely be moved. Another small thing here and there didn’t seem like much, until I felt the weight of it. I pushed with a plea, “Take it Lord.” It was never meant for me to carry; these things belonged to the Lord. But over time things would start piling up again as I tried to control, fix, change, and give away the circumstances of my life.

My striving comes in  the form of packing. Packing, not to leave, but to deal with suffering. To refrain from packing feels indulgent, like I’m not carrying my weight or doing my share. So, while I want to wait upon the Lord and trust him, I feel this relentless pull to do something about it myself. Not that I am able to do anything about things out of my control, but not doing something feels lazy. And I hate that feeling.

With every added stress and disappointment, I add another item to my bag. A few of my own fixes, folded specifically in control. Several pieces of change, things I thought were better ideas than what was happening. And for good measure, stuffed down at the bottom, hidden away, things I planned on ditching altogether. Trying to give it away, or at least, forget about it.

I don’t start packing initially; when I’m feeling good and things are going, seemingly, well (even a few things). In the beginning of a hard season I’m good at trusting God. I have faith. I can hand things over and leave them with him, and even encourage others to do the same. Then things start getting out of control. God gives me more than I can handle. And instead of resting in Jesus I start packing my bags. My way of saying, “I’ll do it  myself.” I start striving and stop resting.

I carry on, because the Lord has made me able. I don’t always feel able, and some times I don’t think of my ability at all. I am absorbed in the mindless act of packing (striving). And each day passes quicker than the last. Then I’m reminded again, more frequently than I’d like to be, that all my efforts have changed nothing. Sometimes it feels like a reminder for sadness and despair. But I think God intends it to keep me coming to him in prayer and to have a greater dependence on him in a way that I would not otherwise. I contemplate how much I have to do and what, of those things, will have any eternal significance.

My downcast eyes glance up to see, as if on a flashing neon sign, words that say “Cease Striving!”

These are God’s words to me. I find them in my Bible.

Cease striving and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

Striving is the way of the world, but not of the Christian.

At that thought my suitcase opens up and item after item begins tumbling out and dissipates. Be still (Ps 46:10), cast your anxieties on him (1 Pet 5:7), trust in the Lord (Prov 3:5), do not worry about tomorrow (Mt 6:34), God will direct my path (Prov 3:6). For every item I had crammed in my bag was a reminder of God’s provision for that item. For control, submission to God’s will (Jas 4:7). For fixing, contentment (1 Tim 6:6). For unwanted changes, peace (Jn 14:27).  For what I wanted to give away or get rid of, patient endurance (Rev 1:9). What I had been attempting to accomplish in my own strength and in the way the world does, Christ has already accomplished for me. All these reminders, which are in God’s word, are hidden in my heart.

And just like that, the suitcase I had been barely able to move, the Lord emptied by the power of his Word.

I am a sojourner here, and the trip I’m going on doesn’t require any baggage. Just a yoke, and it is light.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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