Consider the baggage you’re carrying around
October 18, 2019
In the last post, we focused on the first part of scripture from Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-15a, and how there are times in our lives when we endure and persevere and how what we do and say matters. I posed the question: if you haven’t told someone what an impact they’ve made in your life, would you consider doing that? (And I really hope you did, but if not… guess what?! There’s still time to do that!)
To center ourselves, let’s read the scripture again.
So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees! Make straight paths for your feet so that if any part is lame, it will be healed rather than injured more seriously. Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it. Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. – Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-15a CEB
In this analogy of running a race, we are also encouraged to throw off any extra baggage and fix our eyes upon Jesus. As I wrote before, I’m no runner… but even I can imagine how lugging around extra baggage would make running a race even more challenging. Let’s face it… carrying around any extra baggage in any situation can literally weigh us down.
I think we all carry around some kind of baggage. Some of it stems from our own life choices or situations. Some of it is because of the things that we’ve gone through, maybe without much choice of our own. Some of it has shaped our perspective, our beliefs, and the way we see life.
I also believe some of the baggage we carry can blurry our vision.
It can make offering peace, extending grace and living with holiness difficult to do, or at the least, a little challenging. Even the best intentioned folks have things that we carry around. We’re human and we are good at making judgments. We have ideas that we really hold firm. I’m not saying that they are wrong or ill placed.
Yet, as part of the body of Christ, I think we constantly need to check our hearts and see what’s taken root there. For those of us who are United Methodists, we might reflect on, how is it with your soul?
You see, as followers of a risen Jesus I don’t think we can deny that we ARE compelled to serve others. We ARE compelled to live with endurance, tenacity, perseverance, so that we can make a difference in our families… our neighborhoods and communities… and beyond.
You have the ability to make a difference… to be that champion, that cheerleader, who walks alongside a neighbor, cheering him or her on. Not because you are in a place to know better how to tackle a situation, but because you have the capacity to model a life of peace, to extend grace and to live with holiness. To do no harm, do good and stay in love with God. To paraphrase John Wesley, (sermon 92, On Zeal): in a follower of Christ, love sits upon the throne that is built in the innermost part of our soul… that is, love of God and love of neighbor, which fills the whole heart and reigns without a rival – fills the whole heart and endures or perseveres.
I encourage you to take a moment to consider what the baggage it is that you’re carrying around… what is it that is blurring your vision or keeps you from sitting at the feet of Jesus, keeping your eyes focused on him? Friends, please don’t just read this and move on, without any real thought to it. Maybe you can’t take the time to really dig deep within yourself right now, but perhaps you can find time later. Do you like to write? Journal? Draw? Talk it out? Walk and reflect? Do what you need to in order to consider what might be hindering you from making a difference. How is it with your soul?