Carrying any baggage with you into the New Year? Oh… I'm not talking about those extra pounds we all put on over the holidays. Or even the balance pending on your credit cards. What I'm talking about is the emotional stuff we lug around with us—old junk that we just can't seem to shake off—excess luggage like old grudges, hurt feelings, discouragement, nagging worries and cares.
I sure feel like I am carrying a big old suitcase or two with me this year.
The problem with carrying that burdensome stuff around with us is that it doesn't just weigh on your mind, it weighs down your heart and impacts your life.
It leaves you wide-eyed at night. It shadows you during the day. You try to release it. You beg God to take it. But somehow it still haunts you.
Over the last few weeks I've been reading through the book of Proverbs. When I came to chapter nine, the following verse jumped right out at me. It stopped me in my tracks.
Leave your old ways behind and live!
Why is it so hard to leave those old ways behind? Why do we struggle so with carrying these burdens from one year to the next?
I think one reason is that after a spell, we grow accustomed to them. Oh, we don't like insomnia any more than the next person, but there is also something oddly comforting in bearing old grudges, in feeling justified in hanging onto hurts others have inflicted. And, how can one not feel a bit discouraged these days when we look around at the chaos in our world? Or if you're one for whom the floor fell out of your life or out of the life of a loved one, how can you not carry that around with you everywhere you go?
I've tried the directive that Peter gave to us to "Cast all of our anxiety on Jesus because he cares for us." (1st Peter 5:7). But my problem with casting them away is that my upper body strength and my will are wimpy… I have tried giving these bags of mine the heave-ho, but they don't get very far. Seeing them just feet in front of me, I find it easier just to go pick them up again.
I find that leaving them behind once and for all seems much more difficult.
As is the way that God often works when he starts stirring deep in the heart of you, the same story line appears again and again in your life. Like this devotional, I opened to one morning…
Bury every fear of the future, of poverty for those dear to you, of suffering, of loss. Bury all thought of unkindness and bitterness, all your dislikes, your resentments, your sense of failure, your disappointment in others and in yourself, your gloom, your despondency, and leave them all, buried, and go forward to a new and risen life.
A.J. Russell God Calling
There it was again. To leave that cumbersome luggage of the past behind—I must bury it. Burying it… leaving it behind... leads to life. It was all coming together for me.
But, then, to really drive the point across, God caught my attention while I was out and about one afternoon running errands. Turning the radio on, I heard this song by Nichole Nordeman, and I knew what God wanted me to do.
Where I was baptized
Watching the old me
Hope is rising up
I can feel the rush
I'm alive and I'm breathing
This is the river where I go under
This is the river where I come up new
Baptized in the blood and wonder
This is the river that I fall into
When I fall into You
This is the river where I went under
This is the river where I come up new
Oh God, be my rescue
And save me from myself
Save me from myself
Just like baptismal waters. I myself had to go under, baggage and all, watching the old me, the burdened me, slowly sinking out of sight and feel hope rise, feel the rush of air fill my lungs as I came up new.
Leaving behind what we've carried too long is the only way to live.
I am the resurrection and the life.