I am determined not to take a bigger suitcase, so I start rethinking my choices. Hmm...what is non-negotiable, and what do I really not need to pack with me? After about an hour of re-thinking and re-packing, I am satisfied. And when I pick up my bag, wow, I have really lightened the load that I will have to carry.
And yes, that got me thinking...
What do we carry around as baggage within us, that weighs us down? And is it really necessary to be carrying the 'stuff' around in us? And what does all that excess baggage that we drag around with us, day after day, do to us?
Bear with me, as I attempt to tie in overpacking for a trip to the 'baggage' we carry.
The tie in came because I have just finished an excellent book by Dr. Daniel Levy, titled Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer...One Patient at a Time. I heartily recommend this book. For the science geek in me, it was the perfect blend of medical scenarios and spiritual insight. I started reading it as research for the book on
forgiveness that I am writing. In this book, Dr. Levy makes some interesting claims
and he sites several medical journals, that link physical well being and forgiveness. He makes it a practice to get to know not just his patient's medical history, but their life history to make sure nothing- not anger, or bitterness or unforgiveness will interfere with his patients recovery after the arduous brain surgeries he performs. He also prays with every patient (that consents to it), before he operates on them. Wouldn't you love a doctor like that!?
In chapter one of his book, Dr. Levy states, "Emotions can create health or cause disease, and spiritual health affects emotional health, [which affects physical health]. Laugher and joy are known to restore and encourage health, while bitterness and resentment promote disease. Forgiveness has well documented health benefits."
And then he cites some medical literature to back up his claims, such as the Journal of Pain,
Pain Medicine, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, and Disability and Rehabilitation Journal.
This is not 'quack' medicine. In fact, in my research, I typed in Forgiveness and Health to my search engine, and I was astounded by how much medical, scientific research is out there to substantiate the connection between physical , emotional and spiritual well being.
So, let's revisit packing my suitcase. And what we 'pack' along for the spiritual journey we are on. After all, aren't we all on a trip? We are just sojourning here on this little blue dot in space, for a short time. We have a final destination, hopefully, we are heading home, to spend eternity with our Savior in heaven.
But boy oh boy, we sure pack our bags full while we are journeying here don't we? Full of stress, which we don't release to God very well. Full of frustration, or anger, and yes, full of unforgiveness. And it makes us weary, and perhaps not feeling so well emotionally and physically.
We will always have trials and situations which produce stress. We will always have people who disappoint us, or hurt us, perhaps causing some pretty deep wounds.
And we will feel sad, angry, frustrated. It's ok to feel all those things, but it is NOT ok to stay in those feelings. We have got to DAILY take them and lay them at His feet.
Your health depends on it!
Is there someone you need to forgive? DO IT TODAY. They haven't asked you to forgive them? Don't let that stop you, it didn't stop Joseph (Genesis 45), or Stephen (Acts 7: 54-60), or Jesus (Luke 23: 34).
The stress you feel, I can't promise it will go away and never return. It is difficult to let go and forgiving is hard, perhaps the hardest spiritual work we are asked to do. But I can promise, that there is Someone who can help you with it.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you an learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My load is light. Matthew 11: 28-30
I know it's hard, but you can do it. Start getting stuff out of your bag and put it in His bag. Lighten you load, and determine to pack lightly for the rest of your journey.
If you are struggling with forgiveness, I would like to know and help if I can. Just contact me through my home page. Also, if you read through the powerpoint on forgiveness on the Bible studies page, you might get a fresh perspective.