Friday, February 2, 2018

Baggage

Are you carrying around excess baggage, luggage or a spare tire? The answer is probably yes. We all have hurts, fears, issues that are unresolved at some point in our lives. They can drawn us to healing or hinder our walk. Untreated these problems will take us down along with our relationship with others.  What are your issues?

For me it was fear and anxiety from a childhood home full of uncertainty brought on by a dysfunctional alcoholic mother suffering from mental illness and Alzheimer’s disease. The nausea and anxiety followed me wherever I went bringing low self-esteem and caution to my life. I sought relief in trying to control something. For me it ended up being food and an anorexic eating disorder ensuing to try to deal with an embarrassing spar tire of baby fat. Back then there was not much knowledge of treatment. My fears grew and I sought other addictions to deal with it. My father was oblivious to the problem until I collapsed at a large public event. He too had great trouble dealing with my mother and the chaos.

My unstable life spun out of control with alcohol and exercise addictions growing. I lost more weight. Only leaving home for college brought a needed but very challenging change. I found the free flowing alcohol and playing three varsity sports a great way to deal with hiding or assuaging my anxiety my way. The spar tire I was chided about in High School was gone, replaced with a muscular and athletic frame that had proven itself at college’s highest levels. But anxiety still reigned.

After graduation, I married my High School sweet heart. I thought that would bring healing. No, there was something still missing. I was more in control, but still needing crutches to live.

I have written about my professional career as a crisis management hospital executive and consultant. Do you see the irony? It was only when I had lost all control even after bringing about the salvation of a doomed hospital that I found healing.

It was past midnight when I started the 400-mile drive home from the shores of Lake Superior in a blinding snowstorm that I would be changed with a blinding light like the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road. I was exhausted physically and spiritually from the stress of leading the turnaround and my own sin. I did not know where to turn. The radio static only allowed me to stop on one channel.  I heard the comforting words of Chuck Swindoll, a pastor/teacher telling me about God’s forgiveness and healing power. I stopped the car in the blizzard by the side of the road and knelt in the blinding headlights swirling in the now knee deep snow and cried out to God. I received His grace and merciful forgiveness and the life changing salvation that comes in conversion. Warmth and peace filled me as I drove the rest of the way home. Baggage was dropping off.

It was only a couple of years later as I sat in the office of a Christian Counselor, an ex-Catholic monk, that I heard the call and audible words of God, “This is the way, walk in it.”  Both of us heard the words, only I heard the verse that I came to know was my calling into ministry from Isaiah 30:21. I had heard the voice behind me saying it. Now I needed to heed and follow.  More luggage was gone. In fact, a buoyancy of spirit that transcended all understanding had replaced it.

As I grow in my walk with God, His righteousness through His Spirit is changing me and enlightening my soul and spirit. The baggage is gone, replaced with the peace of God, and peace with God. The crucible of life is real and difficult. And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6).


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