COMMENTARY

Dealing with our baggage

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As I boarded the plane, a flight attendant told me to put my carry-on in the First Class overhead compartment.  I wasn’t IN First Class, there was just room there for storage.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it in the bin.  I pushed and shoved but it wouldn’t budge. 

         
People were everywhere!  All eyes were on me; I was holding up boarding traffic.  As I wrestled with my baggage, I dropped my jacket in the aisle along with the reading glasses I had stuck in my hair.

         
I heard a voice say, “I’ll get it.”  Were they talking to me?  Eager to do it myself, I continued to mash the bag into the small space. 

         
Then closer, the kind voice spoke again, “I’ll get it.”  It was the flight attendant. 


That’s not the first time I’ve had help with baggage.  The memory came back like a flash!  God graciously forgives us of our sins and generously takes our baggage from us, praise His Name!  “I’ll get it,” He says, and He does.

         
In the mid 1990s, some college students who were serving as summer missionaries came to our church for a big weekend of fun.  During Sunday School, half of them came to our high school class.  (I was the teacher.)

         
I love to hear people’s stories, so, at the beginning of class, I asked, “Please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be on this mission team”.   (I can remember it like it was yesterday!)


The first guy’s name was Matt.  He had short blonde hair and looked like he had just come from a game of tennis.  As he began to tell his story, I was surprised.  This wholesome young man told us of shop-lifting, drug use, and premarital sex.  That was a usual date for him and his girlfriend, he said.  One night he ended up in jail where his parents left him.  That’s when he realized he needed Jesus. 


The next student’s name was Cody.  He wore wide-legged bell bottom jeans and sported a large afro along with lambchop sideburns.  In a soft voice, he began, “My name is Cody.  I was saved when I was a child and have been in church my whole life.  I have never smoked or had a drink and I’m still a virgin.”  Wow!  As much as I was shocked by the first guy, I was bowled over by Cody’s testimony!


As we went around the table, a beautiful girl who had been homecoming queen, a cheerleader and captain of some sports team spoke about searching for fulfillment yet finding none.  She shared openly about trying to fill the void in her life finally giving her heart to Jesus.


Another young man they called “Stick” shared his story.  He had always been very tall and very thin, never seeming to fit in any group.  He had been teased mercilessly all his life.  Eventually, he tried to commit suicide but was unsuccessful.  That’s when he turned to the Lord.


I stood in front of the Sunday School class amazed at the candidness of this group of summer missionaries.  And it changed my life!  I had never, ever heard such brutal honesty from any Christians!


How wonderful that they had truly accepted the forgiveness of Christ!  They were letting God use them AND their stories or testimonies!  On the other hand, I had not.


I had made some bad choices years earlier and had been wearing the guilt like a heavy cloak.  I held secret shame for a decade asking God to forgive me again and again.  I carried my baggage like a suitcase.  I did not understand about the mercy of God, that He would not only forgive me-had indeed forgiven me the first time I asked-but could and would still use me!  Just like these college students!  I had never heard anyone be so completely honest about their past!  It was so refreshing!  Did I mention that it changed my life?!


The flight attendance took my carry-on from me.  It was taken care of.  I didn’t need to hold on to it-it wouldn’t be safe if I did.  The same was true of my personal baggage.  Jesus took care of it and I didn’t need to worry about it anymore.


As I took my seat on the airplane, I couldn’t help smiling.  We were headed to Kenya for a mission trip.  How sweet for God to remind me from the get-go that He has taken care of all my baggage and can still use me! 


Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at preacherswife7@yahoo.com. 

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