Lugging life's luggage
This month we are featuring Neil Cullan McKinlay's book The Gospel: Simple yet Profound as a part of our Easter titles. Mr. McKinlay was good enough to boil down the central message of his book into this reflection, which is also quite "simple yet profound."
I love that place where Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Isn’t this a piece of good news for anyone humble enough to admit that life is a struggle? Here is someone willing to carry the weight of your baggage, and even go that extra mile with it! This is the calm that is in the midst of the chaos, the oil that is on the troubled waters. This is a load off your mind. This is the gospel!
Oh sure, for the gospel to be the proper gospel it needs to be about Jesus dying on the cross, and then rising from the dead. But what does the gospel mean? What does it mean to me and to you? To ordinary people? Well, in short, it means peace and rest from life’s labors.
Much like refugees on foot fleeing from a war zone with their whole life’s possessions in a single suitcase, we wonder where to turn, and who to turn to. Peter sums up our plight best where he says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). So, we approach the Prince of Peace and listen to His words of life. The gospel.
What are those precious things that we hurriedly pack into our suitcases? Photos of loved ones? A change of clothes? Toiletries? But what is it that makes our bags feel so heavy? Is it perhaps all those idols we carry around with us? Are we not like Rachel? “Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them” (Gen 31:34a). To our own detriment, we try to hide our sins by sitting on them instead of simply confessing them. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Life’s luggage loses weight when we leave our idols of sin behind and forget all about them. It is only then that our energy is renewed. And it is then that we discover how light a clear conscience is. For this is what it is like to know personally the mercy of God’s forgiveness. There’s that gospel again. Yes, the gospel is simple, yet it is profound. Jesus tells us to repent and believe in the gospel, i.e., to turn our backs on our sins by turning to face Him as He is revealed in the Bible.
How did I know where to lay down my load which gave me calm in all the chaos, life in the midst of decay, living water for my dried-up soul, spiritual food for my dead spirit, forgiveness for my sins? My burden had become too hard to bear. But I had heard about Jesus, so, as His Spirit enabled, I begged Him to lift life’s luggage from me. Yes, I had heard the gospel. And now like the proverbial beggar telling every other beggar where to find bread, I want everyone to know where to find Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Good works do not produce salvation. Rather, salvation produces good works. We do not do good works to be saved. We do good works because we have been saved. Our good works are our response to God’s grace. Our good works, therefore, are part and parcel of God’s gift. When God gives you His free gift, the parcel contains everlasting life, the forgiveness of sin, a place in heaven, and it also contains the good works that you will do.
We are so grateful to Mr. McKinlay for this reflection and we pray that you will follow his admonition to beg Jesus to lift life's luggage as you turn to Him as your savior.
- Carrie Schuessler