Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Toting Baggage

Yesterday I worked a bi-annual event called "Homeless Connect Day" in Trenton, New Jersey. Several non-profits host the event where the homeless can receive hair cuts, vision care, acupuncture, chiropractic services, massages and health screenings. In addition, they can pick up information on housing, VA benefits, legal assistance, receive help getting an ID so they can get benefits, and more. Clothing and food are also available.

In order to get these services, attendees must first answer a brief questionnaire to gather information on a number of factors regarding their homelessness. The compiled information is used when planning projects, lobbying for funding and more. 

I've been working these events for the past 3 years stationed in the "exit booth". It's my job to ask attendees what they did and didn't like about the event, how they heard about it, what was most helpful and what was missing that might have been beneficial for them.

That's how I met Denise. 

Many attendees just want to gather their "freebies", food and leave, but Denise needed to talk, so I listened. 

She told me she was grateful for the places around the city where she could stay, but her great need was for a place to leave her things during the day. Many shelters only provide a bed for the night, and come morning, all her possessions need to be packed up and toted with her everywhere throughout the day. 

Denise's health was suffering from the energy required to do that day in and day out - in the extreme heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter.

As a result, when I offered her some free items her response was "no thank you - I just can't add to the weight of what I already have to carry around. In fact, I may just give you back this bottle of water because it's so heavy."

I encouraged her not to return it, but instead to drink it along the way - it was an extremely hot day and the water would be beneficial.

As she left the event to face the challenge of her burden, I wondered how many of us carry our baggage like Denise...not physically, but spiritually.

We don't have to be homeless  to lug our baggage wherever we go.  

We may very well have a nice roof over our heads and a comfortable bed to sleep in every night, but we're still carrying our "stuff" with us day in and day out. 

And it's beginning to wear us down...tax our strength and our heath.  We don't know how to let it go and think we can't function without it. 

It's become part of our daily routine. 

In fact, rather than unpack it to lighten the load, we wish there was a place to keep it safe. We may even refuse a free gift and life-giving water because our hands are so full, what's being offered looks like it will just weigh us down further. 

In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus said "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."  When we take on His yoke, we are able to lay down our burdens - the trade doesn't increase the weight - it lightens the load.

And in John 4:13-14 we are told "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Once again, the trade off is for something that is far better.

So what is weighing you down today? 

What baggage do you need to unpack? 

Anger?  Shame?  Jealousy?  Pride?  Hatred?  Loneliness?

Don't store it away.  Those types of burdens get heavier over time. 

And don't carry them with you wherever you go...they will affect everything else you try to do.

Right now, open your suitcase. Ask God to remove all the things that make it difficult to move forward. As He discards the burdensome hurts and issues He'll fill it with free things that are light as a feather - His love, His peace, His mercy.

Then drink deeply of the water He offers. You'll never be thirsty again.


  1. I have never heard a better illustration of the "baggage" we all carry in different degrees. beautiful post!

    1. Thanks Susie...God just made it so clear to me after the encounter. I knew I had to share.

  2. So, SO true, Toni. A much needed reminder for me. Excellent analogy. Thanks, my friend.

    1. Thanks Pam - I think we all need to be reminded from time to time :)

  3. Really good analogy. I carry around way to much, unfortunately.