Traveling internationally can be quite rewarding but it’s not without its challenges. One of the first hurdles is learning how to pack. I’m a chronic overpacker, but when I travel for work, I often visit several international countries in the same trip which requires multiple plane changes and extensive security checks.
I had to learn the hard way that carrying luggage is a burden. Not only do you have to keep track of it all, but it’s also heavy to lug around. Traveling with baggage slows you down and is more expensive. Moreover, at security checkpoints they rummage through your stuff requiring you to go back through your bags and repack.
Finally after trips dragging one-third of my closet through Europe, I got the message and left it all behind. Nowadays I travel abroad for ten days with only a carry-on! I can’t tell you how freeing it is to leave that stuff behind and get by with only what I truly need.
Going through this process, I was struck by how traveling with baggage is applicable to our daily lives and our walk with the Lord. If you are like me, you are still carrying around too much baggage–emotional, physical, mental and yes even spiritual baggage that is weighing you down. Perhaps a failed marriage, a strained relationship with a parent or sibling, physical or mental abuse from your childhood, a bad church experience, self image issues, self doubt, self pity…the list goes on and on.
The point is not to discount or trivialize any of these negative life experiences, but rather to point out that we all tend to aggregate issues over a lifetime and all too often drag them along with us as baggage. As these negative experiences accumulate and as they are unpacked and repacked, like going through an international security checkpoint, they take a heavy toll on our current life travels. (In some ways a security checkpoint is better–at least they take away things that could be harmful!)
This is in part what Paul hints toward in his letter to the Philippians. Paul says he is not perfect nor has he yet attained his goal of resurrection, but he successfully has forgotten what lies behind and now reaches forward to what lies ahead. In other words, he has set his old ways aside, he has set down his baggage. Paul may have thought it necessary to carry the burden of those earthly bags before, but once he knew Christ, he realized those bags could only bind him to his old ways.
Sometimes, our baggage can be so ubiquitous that it predominates our lives. When this occurs our relationships suffer, even our most important relationship with God. How we all would benefit if we could only lighten the load and set some of our baggage down! Think about how fruitful our relationships, especially with God, would be if we travelled like Paul into our future with only a small carry-on, travelling light in the Lord!