I work at a busy hotel in central London, but I live outside of London. To get to work, I use several trains. At the busiest times of the day it can be absolutely horrendous, often crammed into hot and sweaty train carriages like cattle, but more recently I’ve come to realise something: Every second person seems to have a bulging backpack on them. I had never considered any aspect of it symbolising spiritual baggage until last week.
I have absolutely no idea what it is people need to be carrying around with them that they need such large holdals on them. It constantly perplexes me that so many people struggle around looking more like they are hitchhiking across Europe than merely making their way home having completed a day’s work.
A Hazard & Hindrance
The problem with these back packs is they are a hazard. As the holder swings around, so does the rucksack, but no allowance is made for other people like me who find themselves in the flight path of the back pack. I’ve taken a number of unintentional batterings in recent months from stray back packs.
The space some of these rucksacks take up could easily be filled with another person, but yet people seem to refuse to remove the sack from their back. It is as if they are holding on to that baggage on their back like it is part of them even though it is patently obvious it is not.
Spiritual Baggage All Around Us
As I was wandering home last week pondering what to do when next person fills an extra space on a train with their seemingly unnecessarily oversized back pack, God showed me a picture of what all these backpacks symbolise.
The back packs represent the spirital baggage in people’s lives. That they keep these bags strapped to them throughout their journey is symbolic of their holding onto this spiritual baggage. The varying size of bags represents the varying amounts of baggage being carried. The fact so many backpacks are so large shows the sheer number of people in society who are carrying and holding on to a tremendous amount of baggage in their lives.
It is easy to ignore the pain in people’s lives, but pause for a moment. Look at the faces of people walking around and you can see they are not happy or fulfilled in life. Listen to conversations on the trains, the beggars making their way through train carriages, the homeless sheltering in almost every door alcove and the people using drugs and alcohol in a desperate attempt to forget their problems and escape (at least) temporarily the pain of life. Look at all this and it is pretty obvious many people have lots of baggage they are holding onto.
Then there is the less obvious baggage. There are the people working excessive amounts of hours just to bring in a bit more money as they believe more money rather than time spent with family will bring happiness and satisfaction. There are the people perpetually unhappy in their jobs. Those who are in a state of depression because of the lack of fulfillment in their lives. Those who don’t look forward to going home because their home is not a place of peace.
I heard the Lord say: “What if, instead of seeing the backpack as the problem, you see the baggage it represents as the problem. Instead of seeing that person as the problem, focus on the problems in their life. Instead of complaining about the backpack, pray for the person?”
This is a great challenge because it is easy to ignore the many problems people have. We all have problems for we are all broken to a greater or lesser extent, some in more or less obvious ways. People feel trapped by the pain in their lives and so they often turn to alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling as an attempt to mask that pain and provide what they hope (in vain) to provide relief from that pain.
What we need is a bit more compassion. People who are holding onto so much baggage do so because they do not think there are any other options. They don’t know there is someone who can take care of the baggage for us.
Cast Your Burdens
That someone is Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us to, “cast our burdens onto the Lord and he will sustain us” (Psalm 55:22) and “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Because of Jesus we do not have to struggle on alone. Because of Jesus we do not need to try and find coping mechanisms which often cause a greater harm – He is the coping mechanism.
A life with Jesus does not mean we will be free from pain or suffering, but it does mean we will have a wonderful counsellor to whom we can pass our worries and burdens on to.
It is tragic watching people in society who are bound up with so much hurt, so much anger, so much bitterness looking everywhere but nowhere, trying everything but nothing to fill the God shaped hole in their heart.
We who have Jesus have a responsibility to share Him with those around us. We need to have a boldbess and a confidence in Christ to proclaim him as Lord over every situation. There is no problem too big for him to take care of.
The next time you see someone on the train with a rucksack, ask God to show you how you can pray for that person and maybe even talk to them and share Jesus’ love with them. You never know, it might be the start of the pain in their life being healed and their life being transformed by God who so loved us that he sent Jesus to us to rescue us from our peril.