Despite the threat of a MacGyver-like terrorist sneaking a half-empty bottle of shampoo or a chewed-on-yet-still-deadly toothpick onto my flights, I still enjoy flying. Sure, the waiting (in line for security, at the gate for a delayed flight) can try my patience, but I’m still a fan of flying the friendly skies, even when they’re not so friendly.

On my flight from Orlando to Atlanta last week, we had to wait a little longer than expected to board. The flight was completely full, and apparently just about everyone in line in front of us brought a huge carry-on bag that they needed to stuff into the overhead compartments, so it took a while for everyone to put their luggage up and get seated.

Upon landing, of course there was the inevitable delay of waiting for fellow passengers to retrieve their bags (and hope that said bags did not land on our heads as we sat patiently waiting for them to get off the plane). One family in particular had three or four suitcases disguised as carry-on that they had somehow managed to stuff into the overhead bins.

Seasoned traveler that I am, I’ve learned to pare down my carry-on items. With federal regulations being so strict these days, it’s just easier to get through security if I go ahead and check luggage anyway rather than trying to carry on toiletry items, especially if I’m staying somewhere for more than a day. And obviously the less I carry, the easier it is to manuever through the airport and onto the plane.

As I watched people struggle with large and unwieldy carry-on bags, I found myself thinking about how often I “carry” baggage through life. Perhaps I’m afraid to let go of some baggage, out of fear that I’ll need it some day. If I let go of a grudge, then I make myself vulnerable to being hurt again. If I turn over my worries to Jesus, then I’m also yielding control (or my perceived sense of it). Sometimes that baggage, cumbersome as it may be, provides a sense of security.

Let’s face it, none of us are baggage-free. We are all shaped and affected, for better or for worse, by our past–whether our family and upbringing, past relationships, school, job, church, etc. But while I may have a closet full of luggage at home, that doesn’t mean I have to lug it around with me everywhere I go.

Jesus doesn’t just invite us to check our baggage–instead, He invites us to let it go and exchange it for something else. I’ve found that He never asks us to give something up without giving us far more in return.

“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)

Jesus promises us rest, something that our worrisome, guilt-ridden and unforgiving souls desperately need. We can do all manner of things to try to lighten the load of our baggage, but as long as we carry it around with us and allow it to dictate our present relationships and experiences, we will remain burdened. In laying our burdens down at Jesus’ feet, He allows us to exchange that baggage for freedom, and in many cases, He will even use those past experiences and relationships for good, if we let Him.

I’m trying more and more to lighten my daily load and travel light, trusting Jesus to handle my baggage and to find freedom and rest in Him.

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