Excuse Me, Is that Your Baggage?
If you have ever flown on an airplane and had to check your bags, you know when you get to your final destination you have to retrieve your baggage. I’m sure many of you can relate to waiting for the buzzer and flashing light to warn you the baggage is coming onto the carousel. It seems like everyone is always in a hurry to exit the plane and get to the baggage claim area, only to stand around and wait for their bags.
While you are waiting, the airlines always give the announcement that many bags look the same and to always check the name on the bags you retrieve to make sure they belong to you. On Hubs’ and my last flight we waited longer than normal for our baggage, and everyone was getting antsy waiting for their bags. There were two flights which had come in simultaneously and apparently one of the carousels wasn’t working correctly, which made us all wait what seemed like forever. It was probably about a half hour.
As I stood back waiting for Hubs to get our bags from the carousel, I watched as people picked up bags which looked like theirs and put them back over and over again. At one point there was a woman who took a red bag off the carousel only to have another woman yell and come running over to tell her it wasn’t her bag.
One by one, as the crowd began to disperse, others stepped forward to once again pick up the wrong bag and put it back on the carousel. What I thought was funny was the way people were willing to claim a bag as their own without ever checking the name on the tag.
In fact, this has happened to Hubs before. Someone picked up his bag thinking it was their own, and even took it home with them. We were thankful they returned the bag later. I wondered what the other person thought when he opened Hubs’ bag to find it full of dirty clothes which probably wouldn’t fit. If he had checked the name on the bag he would have seen it wasn’t his and saved himself a lot of aggravation.
How many times in your life have you picked up someone else’s baggage, only to find out later it wasn’t yours? The kind of baggage I’m talking about now is the relational, spiritual, emotional or financial kind.
We all have baggage in this life. Some of us have been carrying our baggage for a long time. Some of us have been carrying baggage that doesn’t even belong to us, because we fear what would happen if we dropped it. But if you check, is your name on the tag or is it someone else’s baggage? As parents we all want to help our children. We want our kids to be happy and like us so we tend to go above and beyond in carrying their baggage for them. There are also those we love who have compulsive behaviors, addictions or other issues and we can certainly help them carry their baggage. However, in doing so it is easy to become an enabler. Until they take ownership of their issues they will never discover, let alone deal with, the full weight of their own baggage.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t help those with problems, but I am saying we need to be careful about what we choose to carry so we don’t collapse under the weight. If you haven't been dealing with your own baggage, you can't help someone else with theirs Click To TweetIf you haven’t been dealing with your own baggage, you can’t help someone else with theirs. We can have great intentions, but if God hasn’t called you to help carry it, don’t pick it up. Just because the bag may look like yours doesn’t mean you need to yank it off the carousel and take it home.
There are times we are called to help others carry their burdens, such as when people are suffering in poverty, injustice, grief or illness to name a few. There is a difference between helping someone with this type of burden, and taking on their baggage. A burden is a heavy load which is inflicted on a person or group of people through no fault or desire of their own. Baggage consists of personal belongings which someone chooses to carry with them.
Maybe God is calling you to check your own baggage and return what doesn’t belong to you. If your baggage consists of fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger or any other negative thoughts, you can return those bags to the rightful owner, Jesus. He took on the burden of our baggage when He chose to die on the cross for us.
There was a hymn I sang as a child called, “At the Cross” by Isaac Watts and I loved the chorus to this song:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.