I don’t fly much. But, I’ve learned that when I do - what I bring, and how much, makes all the difference. At least in my opinion, the less baggage the better. Right? I believe the same is true when traveling from one year to the next. Less is absolutely, and always, better.
Sometimes, our baggage is tangible; often circumstantial. Perhaps we left a job, ended a friendship, or suffered through a long illness. There's just no way around it, life is unpredictable and some seasons are just plain hard. Other times, our baggage is spiritual. Our struggles live deep in the heart. We're paralyzed by insecurities or distraught over disappointment. The pendulum can swing wide here; there's just so much we can carry. In both cases though, we practically carry this baggage with us wherever we go. And without realizing it, we're impacted. Our shoulders slump. Our arms ache. We walk differently than we normally do. We become restricted by unnecessary and unhealthy perspectives or beliefs that profoundly disturb the way we live out our daily lives.
Baggage comes in all shapes and sizes but, truth is, we all have it. For both our sakes though, I'm going to stick myself out on a limb and declare that with Jesus, maybe we don't have to. Maybe instead of poking around and unpacking what we've been carrying, we can do something radical instead -we can let go.
Because confession is synonymous with acknowledgment, and you can't let go of what you haven't first admitted is already there - I'm going to go first. Here are the three things that I'm letting go of in 2018, to never be seen or carried again. In Jesus Name.
1. EXPECTATIONS. It's not about avoiding disappointment. It's about realizing that I am actually not God. Go figure. No one needs to live up to my ideal of them, and no one ever will. My perspective will always fall short of what's best for me, and for others. And, where many people regard expectations as a means of overextending a hope, or a dream -I've found that they're more like blinders. In the pursuit of an ideal, from anyone or anything - we lose sight of what is God's best.
In the Kingdom, we can operate out of a place of expectancy instead. It's here that we trust God's work in ourselves, in others, through others, and entwined in each and every circumstance that we may face. Expectancy is different because it's believing that God has our best in mind. It's about not looking at what the world should or could provide, but rather about what God will provide. Expectancy is keeping our eyes open for Him in every aspect, fully believing that He will show up for us and that, while we may not be aware of it -- He is absolutely doing the same for every other person, too.
2. A VICTIM MINDSET. "I can't. I didn't. I have no choice. I am not in control." All of these, in one way or another, I've thought or said out loud or believed. It's hard to even admit - but where seasons of life have become difficult it's been most comfortable to lay down and die. Have you ever heard that phrase before? It means to give up hope, to quit, and to have no ambition. How many times after long-suffering through a habit we want to kick, a harsh environment we want to leave, or a tough relationship we just don't understand we have just said, "I can't do this anymore; I won't?" Instead of making a move towards something better, something greater -- we just allow whatever it is to consume us.
I'm learning that this is what separates those who experience real change in their lives from those who don't. We all fall, we'll all stumble - but what makes us or breaks us if we're willing to get back up again. Then, we have to define what sort of mindset we will allow to define us; the fall and the failure or the victory of Christ? When we choose Christ, we get to live from victory not victimhood. That's how we break free.
3. MY PERSONAL AGENDA. What if we woke up every day with the sole goal of tackling what was on God's agenda, instead of ours? What if we literally asked Him what he wanted us to do that day? What if I said He cares just as much about the little tasks as the big dreams? It's both thrilling and a bit intimidating, right? It also requires us to relinquish a lot of control and more significantly, our self-focus. However, this is where I see the Lord doing the most work; in the surrendered. If I give Him my career, He'll take it and expand it. If I give Him my dreams, He'll make them more than I ever thought possible and exactly what I need. If I give Him my errands, He'll show up at the grocery store and in the drive-thru line.
For God, it's not about control. It's about the possibilities that come to fruition when we bring the Kingdom with us. When we allow Him access into our lives 24/7, we're doing more than just changing ourselves. We're changing the world.
In the last several years, God's been persistent in teaching me the same lesson; with different words and through various events. I don't know that it will ever change. But, these three things only serve to prove what His grandest plan has been for my life all along; and it's this: to live is Christ, and to die is gain. And if all I have to surrender is all that has only has served to imprison me, than so be it.
Come at me 2018, cause my hands are free.
IN THE WORD
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." || 2 Peter 3:8-9
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." || Romans 8:28
"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." || Deuteronomy 20:4
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." || 1 Corinthians 15:57
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." || 2 Timothy 1:7
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." || Proverbs 3:5
"“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." || John 15:1-7