The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …
- Isaiah 61:1-2
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
- Luke 4:14-19
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- Luke 19:9-10
“Emotional baggage is the term I use to refer to those feelings, thought patterns, and past experiences that continue to traumatize a person each time they are triggered or recalled, and that affect in an ongoing way a person’s behavior and responses to life.
“Emotional baggage keeps a person in spiritual bondage. It weighs down a person with guilt, pain, and inner suffering. Such emotional baggage
– keeps a person from being the kind of person God wants the individual to be,
– keeps a person from being what God calls the individual to do,
– keeps a person paralyzed with doubt, fear, and self-recrimination,
– keeps a person from developing a healthy self-image.
“Some of this baggage is so heavy that a person must deal with it in order to be able to cope with life on a daily basis. Some of the baggage seems so light that it doesn’t really interfere with normal daily relationships and responsibilities. The wise person will deal with emotional baggage, no matter how heavy or light it may be.
“Because emotional baggage ultimately keeps a person from experiencing the freedom that Christ Jesus longs to give. And life is at its best when a person is free!”
- Charles Stanley, The Source of my Strength
I just finished this book by Charles Stanley, and I think that it is worthy of a mini-series. I think I may cover one chapter each Sunday for a while. The book spoke to many of my weaknesses, and it may speak to many other people. Even some of Stanley’s background is similar to my own. And if you have similar emotional baggage, regardless of how it came about, you may be equally blessed by an old book, Copyright in 1994.
The book quote above is from the introduction. There are then eight chapters and a conclusion in the bulk of the book. The emotional baggage that Rev. Stanley speaks of is: loneliness, fear, abuse, inferiority, guilt, frustration, burn out, and persecution. The conclusion speaks of the purifying power of pain. These topics do not sound like topics that would attract people to the “show,” but they are relatable topics that need an honest dialogue.
I can absolutely relate to the ways that emotional baggage affects me. My spiritual growth has been stunted by all the things Rev. Stanley discusses, some in a greater degree than others. I may be able to relate personal experiences to each of those. And letting the baggage hang around in the storage room in the basement definitely affects spiritual growth. When God wants you to take the next step, you are holding the bag and asking, “But what do I do with this?”
The obvious response would be to toss the baggage in the nearest dumpster, but it is not that easy and sometimes, you need help.
Rev. Stanley suggests that the first step is to pray. That seems logical. We should ask Jesus to take the load we are carrying off our hearts., to ease our burdens, and to free us from the bondage that we are in. Yes, emotional baggage is like being in prison, when it is really strong and, to use a phrase, “beaten into us.”
But the next step is to trust that God is good on His promises.
It will take God’s help and it will be a slow process. I do not know how many people have read my blog since near the beginning, but if you read posts that are four years old (almost) and those that are recent, it may seem in many cases that it is a different person writing them. And that is before I read this book. God was already dealing with the emotional baggage and using the writing as a means of confessing my issues or crying out for help. To hear a respected pastor say that he had some of the same issues well after he started preaching, that made me feel that I was not a total failure (getting to some of the topics) by not making strong steps of Christian growth before I reached retirement age.
Rev. Stanley states that we absolutely need God’s help, but we may also need caring friends, relatives, and counselors, reading and meditating, prayer, and deliberating forgiving those who may have thought they were doing the right thing when they loaded those suitcases with lead bricks and hefted them onto your shoulders. Yes, the forgiveness thing might be a hard one.
Next Sunday, we will be looking at loneliness.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.