Traveling back from my mission trip to Africa in February 2016 was quite an experience. We were instructed to pack light, assuming we’d want to purchase and bring back hand-carved wooden animals, bowls, etc. from the gifted artisans in Malawi. I carefully packed my clothing and bubble wrap around some of the items I bought, praying that everything would arrive home unbroken. Since we’d given away soccer balls, bibles and literature during our stay, we also had extra packing space in a trunk we’d emptied.
At the Lilongwe, Malawi airport, we paid extra money to have our luggage and trunk “wrapped” in plastic wrap after it was inspected, so that it would not be opened again until we got home. We figured it was worth it, to not have anyone rummaging through and leaving our African treasures vulnerable to breakage or theft. It was a reasonable baggage fee, and justified the additional cost to provide that peace of mind.
When I finally unpacked the trunk, I was a bit upset to discover that one of the items had broken during the trip home. Even though it was plastic-wrapped and not to have been opened again, the plastic had been cut open, and a security guard somewhere (I’m assuming) had opened the trunk. The padding around the wooden bowl had apparently not been sufficiently re-wrapped, so the boat-shaped, zebra-striped dish I’d brought back for my granddaughter Kyra was chipped on one side and cracked on the other. Therefore, the “guarantee” (of not being opened) that I’d purchased — was not really a guarantee. I felt ripped off. (Thank goodness for wood glue and colored pencils to make it look almost like new.)
Our lives are full of not-so-good guarantees, unbroken promises, and the frustration — and often heartache — that accompany living in a fallen world. We can blame Adam and Eve, who gave up their perfect life for this tainted and difficult one — but we’re each guilty. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory (sinless perfection) of our Creator, God. (Romans 3:23)
Because of our own actions or inactions, we have and will hurt others more times than not. We walk around with our own baggage, psychological scars, emotional wounds, bitterness, and haunting memories. Until we let those go, accepting God’s forgiveness, forgiving others, and being set free by Jesus, we pay that “baggage fee” over and over again.
I always say, “Sin wouldn’t be so bad — if it only hurt the sinner. But it hurts innocent lives — that’s what makes it even worse.”
Child abuse, adultery, divorce, murder, theft, slander, vandalism, greed, deception, materialism, laziness, callous egocentrism that turns a blind eye to those in need… the list goes on. People are wounded by others, inside and out. They are paying those unwanted and unwelcome “baggage fees” for someone else’s doings.
I have those scars. You do, too, no doubt. It’s an ongoing process for each of us to turn over those scars to the only One Who can heal them, and bring something good out of the ordeal we suffered.
I’ve had three surgeries. One of them likely saved my life, removing a giant 11 centimeter tumor from my right ovary. I have four scars from that one, and three each from two shoulder surgeries I had not too long after the “big one”. I thank GOD for those scars, however! They reminded me of God’s mercy and healing. They reminded me to be thankful for good medical care and conscientious surgeons. They remind me that the first two emergency room doctors who saw the ultrasound of my stomach were convinced it was cancer, and refused to do the surgery, sending me to a “gynecologic oncologist” surgeon in Tulsa. Those scars remind me of the thousands of people around the world who prayed for me — and the result during surgery — NO CANCER was found in that giant tumor! Those are good scars.
My hope is that every scar — visible or invisible — will cause us to be thankful, to be merciful to others when they hurt (physically, emotionally, spiritually), and to extend the same grace and comfort to them that we’ve received.
3 May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. 4 He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.” 2nd Corinthians 1:3-5, CEB (Common English Bible, www.biblegateway.org )
I recall an old gospel song that spoke of the wonders, beauty and perfection of Heaven. The lyrics said, “The only thing there that’s been made by man are the scars in the hands of Jesus.” (Scars in the Hands of Jesus; songwriters Marijohn Wilkin and Nathanial Harp, Jr., BMI) Wow. Even in eternity, with no pain, no sorrow, no murder or abuse or sickness or divorce or death — God chose to leave the scars in the hands of His precious Son, Jesus. But they don’t hurt any more… they just remind us all of what Jesus did, what He overcame, and now lives to tell about it! I pray that my scars — and yours — will serve that redemptive purpose.
The only thing man-made in Heaven are the scars in the hands of Jesus. Wow! #inspiringhopeblog #GodLeftTheScars #mercifulGod Click To Tweet
Jesus paid our “baggage fees” on the Cross of Calvary. He shed His own blood that we could be forgiven – and so that we could forgive others. That’s the BEST news I’ve every heard!
I’d love to hear your story, your comments, your testimony, your questions in the comment section below. Love to know who’s reading, and really appreciate the testimonials and comments I’ve read of those who are being blessed and encouraged by Inspiring Hope Blog. SHARE with your friends (use the “Share the Love” icons at the top.) One more way to turn our baggage into a BLESSING!