“Anything to Declare?”

You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.”  – Anne Lamott

 “There’s a luggage limit to every passenger on a flight. The same rules apply to your life. You must eliminate some baggage before you can fly.”  – Rosalind Johnson  


Do you have anything to declare?”  This is commonly heard at international airports as a traveler, sometimes weary, enters their destination.  It’s a question that must be asked for safety and security purposes that I think begs answering in our lives as well.  I’ve never received a degree in counseling or psychology, but I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes when we enter the present moment which is the doorway to the future we often are still carrying baggage from the past that prohibits us from entering and from moving on.  Baggage, which is anger, regret, hurts, fears, scars (emotional & physical) can seriously limit us and that of the potential for personal and spiritual growth if we continue to carry them with us. 


Jesus even alluded to these types of burdens when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

What is Jesus saying here?  He is telling us to let go of our baggage!  He is saying if you learn from me you will understand that you don’t have to carry this heavy burden any longer, my way is lighter and it will free you of your past, your baggage, your worries and fears.  Jesus says to us in this passage that we ought to let go of it all…it doesn’t matter anymore…we can be free!  Wouldn’t you like to forget some things about your past?  Wouldn’t you like to let go of burdens that you’ve carried around with you for far too long?   We were never meant to heap these worries, regrets and scars around with us for the rest of our lives!  That was not God’s plan for us.  Sure from time to time we have screwed up.  Sure from time to time others have hurt us so very deeply.  Sure from time to time we find it difficult to forgive that one person who broke our heart or betrayed us…yet that’s precisely what Jesus is asking us to do.  He wants us to leave our past behind.  He wants us to lay it down at His feet and for us to allow Him to help us. 

I don’t presume to understand how God’s grace works, but I do know that it does.  By faith, daily I must once again surrender my past to Him.  I know that from time to time that even Satan will try and remind me of those things from my past.  He will try to discourage me and persuade me that I really haven’t changed…and yet when I seek the Lord, when I read His word God shows me just how far I’ve come.  The same is true for you as well.  You can let go.  You will be free.  The answers to healing your past and restoring your future lies with the One that made you, not the ones that have hurt you, or the situations that you fiercely regret.   

The Lord is asking us today; “Do you have anything to declare?”  If we are wise we will declare everything to Him, and allow Him to restore our present and future by letting go of the baggage that weighs us down and holds us back.  Don’t let your past dictate where you go today or tomorrow!  You and I can be free…but first we must confront and let go of the baggage. 

There’s an old prayer chorus our church used to sing and it goes like this:

“Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary, Burdens are lifted at Calvary…Jesus is very near!”       Jesus wants to be near to you today, He wants to lift your burdens, your baggage from you…will you let Him?


Lord I have been carrying around this baggage from my past for far too long and it is weighing me down.  This baggage is holding me back from growing in your grace.  Help me to surrender it all to you today!  I know that it may not happen all at once, but grant me your strength to surrender it all to you!  I want to learn from you, I want that freedom that only you can offer.  Thank you Lord for guiding me and for being here with me each step of the way.  –Amen.

Worship Music and Road Rage

Ok, it’s confession time.  You know, that moment when you spill the proverbial beans, you spill your guts, the whole truth shall set you free…so here goes…

ImageIt happened yesterday.  It was just another normal day of getting my two oldest boys off to school, and getting there on time.  For me being on time is important, it’s a pet peeve of mine to be late for anything…yet somehow the rest of my family seems to think we can show up whenever we get there, which is not cool for school!

After about five minutes of looking for one of my son’s shoes, which must have been a part of Harry Houdini’s magic act, because I have found his shoes in the oddest places including outside and behind the toilet (I am not kidding).  Finally we get into the minivan, I’m a little flustered, we’re a few minutes late now and the van is stone cold because we spent so much time looking for shoes that I neglected to start the van early enough to get it warmed up.  I guess you could say it was my time to chill…literally.  We get our seat belts buckled, and off we go to school.  I take a few deep breaths to exhale the stress from my lungs and turn on the radio.  It’s still set to my mp3 player, and so praise music begins to play in the van.  I am finally finding my groove with now tepid coffee in hand, and soothing worship music playing in the background.  At this point I am starting to feel the music, and I begin to sing along…oh don’t judge me, I bet you sing in the van too.

As I’m singing along to a song called “Love came down” I glance in my rearview mirror and notice a car is aggressively riding my rear bumper.  I’m doing the speed limit…I’m not a slow driver.  I’m still trying to sing this great worship song but I’m being distracted by the driver in the car behind me.  It’s starting to stress me out again.  Finally we come to one of those round-abouts that the city recently put in, and I expect him to slow down…instead he speeds up, and swerves into the next lane, then he darts ahead of me and proceeds to cut me off as he turns into my lane ahead of me… “Love came down” is still playing in the background…although I’m not feeling like I want to place any love down on this guy who I feel has just wronged me.  In fact, I feel like speeding up, honking my horn, and if possible pass him up just like he did to me.

Love came down to rescue me, love came down to set me free…”

Then these words hit me in the face, as I’m flustered, angry, and I’ve yelled at the guy as he cut me off…somehow I don’t feel so “set free” at the moment…I’m bound by this anger inside of me at this act that I understand to be injustice and inconsideration by some idiot in a car.

At the same moment that the lyrics of this song that I had just been singing hit me, I look over at my boys.  It’s a double slap in the face.  What am I teaching my children in this instance?  Am I teaching them that you can sing about being set free by the love of God and at the same time curse man because of their ignorance and failure to yield to the rules of the road?

Love came down to rescue me, love came down and set me free…and I am Yours, I’m forever Yours.”  At that moment I didn’t feel like HIS…I felt guilty of being MINE.  I felt guilty of being selfish and I was teaching my children how to be angry and selfish too.  Was this the kind of legacy I was leaving for my kids?  Did I want my boys to be angry at drivers, angry at the world and stressed out over something so temporary and silly?  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” I know this to be absolutely true…because in that moment of road rage, I lost my happiness and I lost a little bit of integrity that I had with my kids in that van.

I was convicted while singing a praise song, and instead of displaying that love that came down for me, I was displaying the wrath of my sinful state…my old self.

Okay, confession time is over.  They say it’s good for the soul, but you know what’s better for the soul?  Avoiding those trappings that lead us to confession in the first place.  It’s much, much harder to do, but in the long run we would all be better off.  This is a truth that I’ve learned, road rage and worship music make for very awkward road companions, let alone improper parental examples of godly living.

I guess what I’m trying to say is summed up in Ephesians 4:29; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”   I was singing one tune and letting sin lead me astray back into my old sinful ways…and my kids were in the van.  I wasn’t building anyone up in that moment; I was letting my tongue destroy.

We can’t possibly do both at the same time as children of God.  We either let love come down and be a part of who we are igniting others with this joy, love and hope; or we let sin in and we treat others through selfish intentions and shameful acts.  Perhaps you’ve also been there a time or two…it’s a slap in the face, conviction follows and we need to confess and modify that behavior if we are to truly live as children of God bringing that love and freedom into this world.

Take it from a guy who sang a song of praise while my actions were singing a song of wrath…it’s time to change.

-Just a thought.

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