Most of us will be weighed down by heavy baggage when we enter the voting booth. This involves the secondary definition of baggage as the past experiences and long- held ideas often regarded as burdens in this journey. Clarity about me is coming to grips with what has accumulated in my luggage compartment---prejudices, biases, personal preferences, likes and dislikes, tastes, hurts, opinions, and so much more. A good portion of the counsel about Baggage Handling 101, involves dealing with those huge cases of past influences and then isolating them from disturbing our personal relationships. Well and good. Trunks of regret, unfulfilled expectations, sorrow, and catalogs of mistakes can overpower our traveling with others. Still, this baggage is with us always, and especially when making critical decisions.
Humans have a tendency not to see themselves clearly. We're usually thinner than the person in the mirror, stronger, more resilient, patient, long-suffering, mature, and all the other personal attributes we so admire and seek. There's in the human psyche an esteem button that all too often keeps the ego at least level most of the time. Yes, there are low self-esteem people too. By and large, however, our species has a self-preservation mode that keeps the real us in the shadows. This is is the baggage we lug around all the time. This baggage affects everything we do, including our significant decisions.
Then, of course, there is truth. Truth is defined as the quality or state of being true, that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality, a fact or belief that is accepted as true. In a Christian worldview, which is my personal value system, truth is a person, Jesus Christ, and that which is revealed to us in the Bible, the Word of God. A secular worldview typically flinches at the idea of absolute truth, seeking a more relative approach to life, a situational course for decision making. My point of reference is usually to seek truth at every decision point. The truth about me is that sometimes I'm not really all that truthful about me.
Scripture centralizes truth in the person of Jesus Christ. It was a central theme in the Gospel of John. In the introduction he wrote---
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14, ESV
Later in the Gospel John explained how this truth is transmitted to humans and what this truth accomplishes in us.
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.
John 8:31-32, ESV
Of course, abiding in the teachings and instruction and counsel of Christ is how we discover and maintain truth in our lives. And, this truth frees us from the capacity and inclination to be influenced by our baggage or the temporary trends of the world around us.
Baggage Handling 101 for believers involves several rigorous spiritual disciplines.
1. Assurance of personal standing with Christ.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do
you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed
you fail to meet the test!
2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV
2. Awareness of what is in your baggage compartment.
The Apostle Paul wrote many references to his past life and the baggage he brought to the journey. An example is Philippians 3:4-6, ESV---
Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks
he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth
day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to
the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness
under the law, blameless.
He was acutely aware of his past and how that past influenced his present life. In that regard, I have developed several questions that help me know the truth about myself and what is stored in the luggage compartment of my feeble mind---
1. What, or who motivates or influences me?
2. What claims my time, screaming urgencies or matters of importance?
3. Do I typically look for easy answers when facing a dilemma?
4. Do I prefer the shallows or am I willing to go deep in making decisions?
5. Is the past a windshield of life or a rear-view mirror?
6. Do I experience the FOMO (fear of mission out) syndrome?
7. Am I an easy target of fake news?
8. Does being F.O.I.L. (first one in line) characterize me?
9. Is the glass half-empty or half full?
10. Which button do I use most often, FAST-FORWARD, or REVERSE.
Sure, there are hundreds of self-assessment tools and review processes to help discern what comprises our baggage compartment. But, these questions have been useful for me when I need to weigh my decision making process.
3. Pursuing truth in all matters, including the truth about ourselves.
Jesus prayed for those who would follow him---
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17, ESV
The Psalmist wrote---
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I
wait all the day long.
Psalm 25.5, ESV
As usual, there are many other references in this matter.
Yes, we have baggage. Right now the media and political systems are seeking to add more as we prepare to enter the voting booth on November 6. Seeking his truth about ourselves and the luggage that weighs on us is a valid spiritual discipline as we approach what most political observers are classifying as a critical election.
The prophet Zechariah spoke an incredible word about seeking the truth---
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in
your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.
Zechariah 8:16, ESV
May it be so On November 6.