BY MARY GEISEN
Anxiously, I watched the carousel slowly move past my line of sight. More and more suitcases left in the hands of their owners while my familiar blue and yellow was nowhere to be seen. I began to make a running list of the possessions hidden in my suitcase and questioned the worry that was beginning to overwhelm me. The thought of this seemed silly because my practical sides knew that clothes, shoes and toiletries could easily be replaced. But my stubborn side, which can cause me to hold onto things way past their prime, still fought to take charge.
Silently, I made a mental list of the contents of my suitcase, which led to naming the memories and eventually the emotions I tie to every day material things. I couldn’t help but wonder, Is this what God calls me to do? Does He ask me to hold on so tight that my clenched fists don’t have room for anything new? Or does He gently ask me to hold my hands open so my fingers can receive more of Him? Though I learned that the suitcase I was searching for was actually lost, I found I still had what I needed to get by. It was just an inconvenience, nothing more.
I realized that whether I lay things down by choice or God intervenes and calls me to let go, He does not leave me unprepared. That suitcase became a metaphor to me of my life and the extra load I sometimes choose to carry even when life would be easier if I simply laid it down. I’m of the age that loss is the biggest load I carry with me, sometimes daily. I miss my parents and find I shoulder a huge responsibility for the next generation because my parents’ generation has all passed on. I forget God’s promise that He will help me carry my burden and emotions. I hold tight thinking it is easier to hold onto the emotions, who I think I am, and my day-to-day routines because they feel comfortable and familiar. But everything that I surrender to God makes room for all that He declares is mine.
God asks each of us to lay down anger for joy, frustration for capability, unworthiness for knowing we are enough, hate for love, and tension for peace. In the process of letting go, we find we had all we needed to begin with because God is a good Father.
There is peace in naming who God says we are and the love that He lavishes over every part of our lives–messy or whole. When we know we are enough because God has already named that in us, we rest in the knowledge that who God says we are is always present even when we have lost our way. Just like a lost suitcase we may lose sight of the next step, but God never does. The beautiful truth is that He never changes and He is who He says He is. When He created you, He declared you were good. That is a truth that will never get lost.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT We all carry extra baggage. I’m the person who over packs for every trip. The lesson is that God pre-destined who we were even before we were born and our story doesn’t require extra words or chapters. What would it look like today for you to name the things that are extra in your life? The last-minute items you think you need to pack, but really are not necessary because God promises to provide everything? Maybe it’s regret, or loss, or trying to define yourself by life events vs. by the Holy Spirit. Whatever it is, after you name the things that are not life-giving, try writing them down. The simple act of naming and writing down the lies we believe about ourselves provides an opportunity for us to let go of them once and for all.
Create a new list of who God says you are next to the first list. Declare these truths in an act of worship and thanksgiving to God. Remember His promise in Hebrews 13:5: “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.” He loves and adores you more than you know!
PRAYER Heavenly Father, hear the cries of my heart as I learn to surrender the lies and embrace your truth. When I reach for the extra baggage, steer me toward you and remind me of all you have prepared for me. When my heart feels overwhelmed by uncertainty or I lose my way, lead me back to you. I thank you and praise you for the story you write for me and the love you always give me. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.