Why did this sculpture affect me so much when I saw it recently at the Toledo Museum of Art? On the surface, this is just a person struggling under a staggering load of baggage. But, as I stared at it, I remembered feeling the same way years ago as I was overloaded with my past sins and the accusations that came along with them. Unknowingly, I had carried one bag after another each time I sat in my sins. Even if I confessed them and repented, I was allowing myself to keep accruing more baggage because I would entertain the evil one's accusations that those sins were not really forgiven. I couldn't really be cleansed from those sins. Impossible! And, so I would add another load onto my shoulders and continue on. You would think that I would've been quite limited by all that heavy weight and that I couldn't have been doing any ministry or good works. However, even with my baggage, I kept playing the piano in worship, working with teens, being a mom, keeping my home. Some may be so affected by their pasts that they don't serve, but others do...and that was me. While I was walking out in good works, I was also fighting condemnation constantly (most of the time not very successfully) and despairing over whether God could really accept me. While most others wouldn't have known this inner battle was waging, my baggage wasn't entirely invisible to the general public. Jealousy, a fierce need to defend myself, insecurity and discouragement all came along with the package.
Looking back, it amazes me how much God was at work in those various ministries as well as in me. He wasn't about to leave me right there in the midst of constant self-condemnation. He wanted me to better understand what His Son accomplished on my behalf so I could serve Him joyfully. My focus could move from me to Him!
The process of ditching that baggage was a tough one, but the battle was the Lord's and He was the One giving me strength in my weakness. I could finally take off the "I'm perfect" mask and put on the "I'm really forgiven!" truth. Did that mean I could wallow in my lack? No, and I honestly think that's a real issue among women today. We want to be honest about our struggles, but in that we often end up glorifying our struggles and weaknesses. I want to glorify God and the work He accomplished on the cross through His Son, Jesus, and how that has transformed me and freed me!
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Colossians 1: 21-23a
Yes, I was an enemy of Christ. My sins were and are grievous. They separate me from our Father God. But, through Christ's death on the Cross and His victory over the grave, He has made us in such a way that He now presents us to our Father as holy, without blemish and free from accusation. Let that just sink in for a moment. You are holy. You have no spot, no wrinkle, no blemish. You are FREE from accusation! Why? Because you've worked hard to achieve that? Absolutely not! Because of Christ. Completely Christ. We enjoy this accepted status with our Holy God because of Christ.
When you are feeling unworthy, judged because of past sins, or compelled to prove your value (especially your "Christian-ness") to others, stop right there, sister. That's exactly when and why you are struggling under a heap of baggage. If you are Christ's, then you are forgiven and made righteous through His perfect sacrifice. And, you obey because you are holy. You walk into the throne room of God and pray because you have no blemishes to separate you. And, you can rejoice because when the Accuser reminds you of those sins from 20 years ago, or yesterday's trespasses, you can say, "I am free!"
...If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8: 31-32