Monday, October 27, 2014


Ever ridden on a train?

I have, and I love it!

Once when I was growing up, my family went to visit my dad's aunt in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  She owned a home with several acres right on the lake.

It was a wonderful time – perhaps as close to living like Huck Finn as I'll ever get!  Days full of fishing and boating and waterskiing and Frisbee-tossing and walking and reading and joy.

But, the best part was the ride home.

We took the train!!

The distance from Illinois to California meant that we stayed overnight in a cabin on the train.  Goodness, what an adventure!  I loved eating in the dining car, and walking around while we were moving.  I loved looking out the window at miles and miles of scenery passing by.

I spent most of the night on my mom's lower bunk – (she has terrible claustrophobia!) – and there was something magical about the steady motion of the train and the reassuring clack-clack of the wheels on the rails.

Years later, I took my own boys on a long 10-hour excursion to Northern California.  I'm happy to say that they loved the experience as much as I did.

There's an interesting *pace* that occurs while traveling on a train. Things slow down, and we are more apt to join in conversation with fellow travelers.  And, of course, we get to see some beautiful things that cannot be seen from the interstate.

Trains are wonderful.

I got to thinking about trains when I read a recent post by a dear friend.  You can check it out here.

She got me thinking about trains, yes.  But she got me thinking even more about baggage.

The emotional, spiritual, mental kind.

The kind of baggage that we tote around – sometimes every day, sometimes for years.

About how we can become weighed down by this unnecessary baggage.


I know I've got some Samsonite that I've lugged around on my life's journey.  

Don't you?

Here's some of what I'm talking about:

1)  The Trunk of Bitterness

You know what those old-fashioned trunks looked like.  They were big and ungainly, and were used for storage.  And they were most often made of very, very hard materials so they stood the test of time.

Which made them great if you used a literal trunk for traveling.

But the trunk of bitterness is never a good thing to bring along for the ride.

I'm not a person with a short temper, nor do I think that anger is a particular sin tendency in me.  But, bitterness?  Oh boy, I am capable of holding a grudge – for a long, long time.

If I've been hurt or betrayed or disappointed or rejected, I might not even let you know.  But believe me, I'll take those feelings and stuff them into my trunk, thinking they'll never see the light of day.

I'll store them for years sometimes, hidden deep in that hardy ol' trunk. Bigger and bigger they grow in the darkness.  I might even forget what I've put in there.  But, it doesn't matter.  For bitterness stands the test of time.  

And you know what else happens?

Let me tell you, if you've ever opened one of those old trunks at an antique store, you'll know what I'm talking about.

The awful smell of mustiness, and mildew, and rotting things.

That's what happens to bitterness inside of us.

It just makes us stinky.

2)  The Suitcase of Guilt

I don't travel often, but when I do, I try not to check in any baggage.  It just makes it so much easier.  A long time ago, I made the mistake of packing some very important things in my suitcase when I went to Hawaii.  You know what's coming next, don't you?  Yup, the suitcase was lost for several days. Fortunately, it did arrive finally – but that doesn't always happen.  And in the meantime, I had to re-stock many necessities – (as if the trip wasn't expensive enough!!)

So, call me Mrs. Carry-On now.

But, here's the problem.  When you try to travel with only one carry-on suitcase, you end up trying to stuff EVERY thing into it.  I have been known to sit on my suitcase while "The Hub" valiantly tries to close the zipper.

Then I lug it through the terminal, making my arms and shoulders ache.  I have to stop a bunch and catch my breath.  Then I try to lift it over my head to stuff it into the overhead compartment.  Then I have to *rinse and repeat* the whole routine when I land.

Opening my suitcase is often an exercise in avoiding the eruption that explodes upon releasing the zipper-contained pressure-packed pile of clothing and shoes and toiletries.

Guilt is like that.

It's an emotion that we like to stuff.  For it is truly painful to deal with guilt. It makes our hearts ache.  It makes it near impossible to lift our heads.  It slows us down, and it cramps our forward movement.  We are often doomed to repeat the same old cycle of re-dredging past circumstances and mistakes and sins until they often explode in our face.

Guilt is a barely zippered up, over-stuffed burden.

3)  The Garment Bag of Pride

Mostly "The Hub" is the one who uses a garment bag.  Although, to be fair, my stuff usually hops a ride!

The thing with garment bags is that we use them to keep things looking nice and fresh and unwrinkled.

We use them for our really *good* stuff.


It's the same with pride.  Pride is something that we hold on to because it's all about making us look good.  We like taking out the flashy stuff and parading it around in front of others – (after all, isn't that one of the temptations of social media??)  We like to think that people will never know about the other luggage stuffed with wrinkly and balled-up clothing – (our true lives and selves).

Oh yes, look at my *fancy dress*.  Beautiful.

My expensive *silk pants*.  Yes, lovely.

That *pure white, crisply ironed blouse*.  Not a flaw, never.

It's the *me* we so desperately want the world to see.  But, the reality is that on the inside, we're really just a pair of dirty, threadbare, sinfully-smelly old sneakers.

Pride loves the garment bag.  Reality is in the suitcase.

4)  The Tote of Fear

I love totes.  In fact, I just might have a tote addiction.  I come by it honestly – my mom has always collected totes!  I'm a sucker for those convenient little bags.  They come in such a variety of colors and sizes.  I never seem to have enough.

(Insert inner dialogue here):

"Oh, this one's perfect for my makeup.  This one will carry my books to Bible Study.  Gotta have that one for my writing supplies.  Well, I could put my brushes and hair dryer and curling iron into that one, yes!"

Totes are especially tempting because they're everywhere now!  The grocery store, the drugstore, the health food store, the bookstore, the mall.  And believe me, they beckon me to keep adding…

Totes are harmless little bags, right?


But the tote of fear is no joke.  Not harmless, not lightweight, not worth collecting.

The thing with fear is that it's everywhere.  We can buy into it at a moment's notice.  I don't watch the news or subscribe to a newspaper.  But every time I log onto my computer, I am confronted with my homepage and thumbnails of what's happening in the world.

And it's scary.

But that's the world at large.  Even in my own corner of the world, there's endless stuff that's scary.  Relationships, finances, health.  I find myself addicted to fear.  Worry is the "harmless" little bag that I tote around.

But the thing with fear is that it's insidious.  It's everywhere.

And it constantly beckons me to keep adding…

5)  The Duffel Bag of Doubt

Duffel bags.

Duffel bags are the perfect baggage for camping.  Flexible, stuffable, sturdy, and dirty-worthy.  We've got a whole family in various colors and sizes. One for cooking supplies.  One for important stuff like matches, lighter fluid, rope, flashlights, hatchet – you name it.  One for the tent, tarp, rainfly, stakes, and rope.  We've got more.

Duffel bags are handy.

But what about doubt?  

Doubt is flexible – adapting our questioning to the spiritual season we might be in.  It's stuffable – we can cram a lot of doubt deep in our souls.  It's sturdy – doubts can become entrenched and able to withstand much-needed scrutiny.  And doubt is dirty-worthy – muddying up our faith with needless dust and grime and soil.

You see, we might think that doubt is harmless.

We might think that the duffel bag of doubt is the perfect baggage for our faith journey.  It's handy to have doubts, right?  They help keep us from blind faith, right?  

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not questioning the value of questioning.  For we are counseled to search the Scriptures and seek after God.  But healthy doubt should always lead us to a closer walk with the Lord, to a greater insight into truth, to a firmer stance of faith.

The other kind of doubt comes from the devil.

After all, our first fall from grace came when he planted the seed of doubt into our souls.  

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.  And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"  (Genesis 3:1, NASB)

Doubt begins here – with this thought.  "Did God really say…?"

Mindless faith, no.  Faith without intellect, of course not.  Faith without reason and study, surely not.

But doubt without God is rotten fruit.

You know, on reflection, there is a lot of needless baggage that I lug around.  Trunks, suitcases, and garment bags.  Totes and duffel bags. You've got them, too.  Maybe yours are full of other junk...

But God doesn't want that for us.  He doesn't want us to hold on to stuff that slows us down, or hinders our walk, or dirties our souls, or poisons our minds.  

He does not want us burdened.

So, let's leave those useless bags that weigh us down at the Station of God's Forgiveness and Grace. 

Let's depart from the Depot of Bitterness, Guilt, Pride, Fear, and Doubt.

The choice is up to us.

The ticket is right there, waiting for us at Will Call.  We just have to pick it up and use it to board the Glory Train to the life that only the Holy Spirit can bring!

All Aboard?


Choo Choo…

Pack up your troubles
in your old kit bag,
Don't let your joy and laughter
hear the snag,
What's the use of worrying,
It was never worthwhile...
So pack up your troubles
leave them all behind,
and smile, smile, smile.

(My paraphrase of an old World War I song)

"...I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." 
(Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT)

"God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.'"(Isaiah 28:12, NLT)

"'For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.'" (Jeremiah 31:25, NLT)

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" 
(Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

What baggage are you holding on to?  Are you ready to leave it behind?!

Linked with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!


  1. Love the photo of your old trunk, but don't want to hang on to "the baggage"!

  2. Hi Sharon! You had me smiling as your described your carry-on bag just bulging, and not wanting to face the explosion of opening it!
    But your application to guilt was a really great one. I followed that for sure. Guilt is so toxic, and just builds up inside bigger and bigger.
    I know you liked trains, but what a joy to share it with your children!
    Have a blessed week my friend,

  3. Excellent! I could hardly wait to see where this "train" and baggage would lead you. Thanks for the shout out (not necessary though). I too love the photo of your old trunks but not as much as the descriptive inventory of all that baggage and (WOW) such wonderful analogies. This is the BEST! Love the paraphrase of SMILE too:)

    This year and the last few, I have struggled to search and let go of baggage hanging around (but I don't think it was any of the ones you described)(well, maybe) you touched on it in the trunk, though I'm not bitter... or maybe the one in the suitcase. It might be the one in the tote, perhaps even the duffel bag. Oh my.
    I enjoyed my only train ride but it was much shorter than yours, only MN to WI (a skip and a jump across the border to the southern part just to see the fall foliage) and experience a train ride, but when I was young, I had a short one from St. Paul to Mpls. for a birthday party (fun) and of course, my hometown had a diner car that goes out into the country and back. Yep, more memories. I so enjoyed yours and how you make it all come alive and so real, but especially how you make those spiritual applications that we can tie to our "baggaged" lives. (sigh)
    More than ever I'm ready to cast all my burdens and baggage, so I travel lightweight. Bravo, Sharon. Who would have thought, one little image could stir such a wonderful word of wisdom and post. You are one talented train conductor.
    Choo, choo ... I'm back in the caboose, thinking you can engineer more of these with all this penned knowledge and such inspirational insights. I believe that you have more stories abroad this train. Keep on chugging along "little engine that could" 'cuz like with me, I not only think, I know you can (with HS power)!!!

    Love you and thanks again. Many blessings and looking forward to more adventures and memories with you,

  4. My hubby and I were discussing going on a train ride just the other day...maybe not one that we would need any baggage for (just a day trip) but you are right on with this idea of all the baggage that we carry...needlessly. I am guilty as charged of all the above! Thank you for bringing such a great truth to my I can just learn to leave my luggage in the care of the Great Baggage Checker...hmm....

  5. Oh my goodness - I love your trunk and I remember the song - pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile..............I am doing that as we speak.

  6. Such a timely reminder to let all that baggage go & fill ourselves the Word of Truth. I appreciate the thought & heart you put into this post. I'm your neighbor at the Salt & Light link-up. Blessings!

  7. What fun adventures you have had on trains! I've been on several train rides from Pennsylvania to California. My poor mom, she took me to California from Pennsylvania while she looked to move here; kept my sister and brother with her sisters so they wouldn't have to miss school (I was in kindergarten so she took me along) On the way back, I got the flu. Three days on the train with the flu, my poor mom! two years later we moved and a week before we moved from Pennsylvania to California I broke my ankle. She had to arrange for wheelchairs to help with getting from train to train, fun trying to walk around in a train with a cast. My poor mom! Now that I think of it, I don't think she ever had a pleasant train trip when traveling with us, LOL.

    I loved this, Sharon. I think I have carried a lot of those bags; bitterness and guilt are high up there. I need to dump that baggage and learn to travel more lightly in the future!!!


  8. Love trains and fly only with a carry on too! I'm totally with you also when it comes to the extra baggage spiritually! What a clever way to write about it!

  9. Baggage tires us out, doesn't it? Lugging it around from place to place, breaking our backs and straining our muscles. We need to leave it all at the foot of Jesus! With Him our burdens are light!

    Blessings, Joan

  10. My dad worked for the railroad and he was entitled to free passes every so often. My mom and us three kids would ride the mail train to Fresno, where Grandpa would pick us up and we would enjoy a couple of weeks each summer with them on their Lindsay ranch. I don't remember taking much baggage, as mother was careful to pack just enough. Baggage is heavy to carry and I am so thankful that God tells us to cast our care/baggage on Him. Thanks for another awesome post and I had to smile about your carry on. I always enjoy your entries - - Thank you for sharing your excellent post with us here at “Tell Me a Story."

  11. Well done Sharon! As a pastor I see this baggage (garbage) being hauled around all the time. If only people could understand what it is doing to them and how it is stunting their growth. Another thought: I had my first train ride back in 2004. Wonderful? Rode from Sandusky, OH to Lincoln, IL to bring my daughter home from college. Absolutely fantastic! No driving. No traffic. No hassle. Plenty of room for my legs (I'm 6'5" & no bus can say that). The seat even reclined. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  12. Oh Sharon, this is such a great lesson. Reading about the trunk makes me think of the trunk my grandmother had.

  13. "The tote of fear is no joke." Indeed it is not! I love tote bags too but sometimes they just get too heavy. Thanks for sharing with us at Testimony tuesday.

  14. Hi Sharon, I'm visiting you from Testimony Tuesday. Thanks for this encouragement to get rid of all the baggage that weighs us down.

  15. This is excellent! I'm a tote-bag lover too. What great analogies! Love this kind of writing. So true.

  16. Good Morning! I think this was the best post I have read in a long time about this subject. Because this is the very thing that stops so many people from really enjoying life! (The now moments) Great word pictures!
    I will add I also have taken a train a few times and I loved it back in the day!
    Thanks for sharing this profound word!
    Yours, Roxy

  17. Oh, Sharon, you've surely named all that junk so clearly, one after the other. Only by His grace do we begin to toss that stuff to the side and travel much more freely and lightly.

  18. Loving your analogies, Sharon. And I'm sitting here pondering the baggage that I carry that weights me down. The one of bitterness is the most convicting. I'm learning rid myself of it but it's a process. It can appear as a result of things done to me in the past even when I know that particular person I'm referring to in this example isn't the same person anymore. Time to throw that bag away. Great insight. Much love to you. xoxo

  19. So much great stuff here, Sharon. Oh, how much lighter the journey would be if we laid it all down. Praying with you that piece by piece, we leave it all behind. Thank you for linking at Unforced Rhythms.

  20. Great, excellent thought provoking post, thanks so much. Blessings

  21. Loved this! I had an immediate connection to your image of luggage and the extra baggage that is carried within. My church did a journey series titled "Home" two years ago and a prayer journey which was interactive was one piece to the whole series. We literally carried luggage throughout and dropped off our guilt, pride, fear,etc. as well as the suitcase by the end of the walk. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had because the physical act was paired with the emotional letting go of our "stuff". Thank you for the reminder today. Blessed to be neighbors with you at Rachel's today!

  22. Wow Sharon, such a great analogy. Funny thing that stood out for me was the "pace" of the train. Kind of gelled with what I'm feeling of late and I think if one paces oneself, one can manage the baggage better? Just a thought :) Your posts always bless me
    God bless

  23. When I was 13 my parents put me on a train from Illinois to California to visit my aunt and uncle. Can you imagine doing that today???? Lake Geneva was awesome. We spent time in Antioch, IL in the summer which was about 23 miles away. I certainly have baggage that I've been carrying around forever. Great analogies in this post.....thank you.

  24. This is awesome! I lugged around the baggage of ANGER for years with regards to my husband's porn addiction. It took a long time for me to realize how lugging this around changed my entire being. It's very hard to move through life with grace when you're toting something as big as a boulder around. So thankful He showed me what I was doing!

  25. Hi Sharon, Thank you for once again sharing your insight and story so well.

  26. "The station of God's forgiveness and faith…" I like that. Great analogy. I've never ridden a train. I used to watch the hoboes jump the trains when I was a kid. I remember the story of my dad riding back from Texas with his big brother's body in a box car heading back to California to bury him… I've avoided trains my whole life…

    But I've got my share of baggage, usually the overstuffed guilty carry on...

  27. Girl, you put so much Jesus-thought into your posts... I love stopping by here! I would say that I struggle with the sneaky garment bag of pride and sometimes guilt.. and fear...

    Ok. So I sometimes over pack. Thanks for this awesome reminder-- can't wait to FaceTime soon :-)

  28. I am very familiar with that tote of fear :(......I used to ride the train back and forth from Montana to Minnesota many years ago. Never slept in a sleeper car though.....sounds like fun.

  29. When I got on the train I didn't expect you to go through my baggage, lol! This is great, Sharon. I love the way your mind works! Good stuff.

  30. Love Love Love this! Most of the stuff that weighs us down is stuff we choose to carry around. Thank you for the reminder.

  31. Oh, my word, dear friend! Another LOVELY, edifying post that hit the nail right on the head for me. How many bags do I really carry around? One time I heard a preacher say that we needed to just dump it all in God's garbage bag....just turn it all loose and upside-down and just get rid of it. How free we would feel! How light we could travel! How unencumbered we could solider on and fight the battles against the enemy of our souls! The hardest part is letting go....why????? Why would we WANT to hold on to all of this ugliness and dead weight and trash that drags us down? Why do we hold on to our fear, guilt, grudges, and other if it were precious and priceless to us? I have no idea, but may God help us to just release our white-knuckle grasp and throw our totes and bags of ugliness into His big, old garbage bag, never to be picked up again. I LOVE the way you write, dear friend....this was SO dear to me today. Love you.

  32. Oh, we do love to carry around our baggage don't we. What a great reminder to let go of the junk and let the Lord lighten our load. Blessings!

  33. Wow! Excellent analogy, Sharon! I certainly have my fair share of baggage that I don't need. Thanks for the motivation to let it go!

  34. We travel a lot by plane mostly but more recently we are occasionally on a train again and I love them but yes lugging the luggage around is not a favourite part of travel and I love the way you have illustrated each of those bits of bad baggage we are all guilty of at one time or another.

  35. There are 100 things I could comment on here, but I will keep it simple...hop on a train and we can talk in person, we are 45 minutes from Lake Geneva. (o:
    God Bless You!

  36. My goodness Sharon you pull out all stops with this one. Excellent analogy and points that drive conviction home to my heart. Hubby and I have long desired to take a train ride up northern coast of California, we are gonna have to make that happen soon. Blessings

  37. Great thought-provoking post.... thank you for the great word picture.

  38. Hi Sharon,
    I am sorry but I took down your link as I had put in the wrong format. Would you kindly link Baggage Claim again at Sunday Stillness .
    Sorry for the trouble,

  39. Great and humorous analogies, Sharon. The squishy duffel bag, the prideful "show-off" garment bag, the bag of guilt. And who doesn't carry one of those around?
    You've done it again, Sharon. A great post of analogies that paint the Scriptures so clearly. Love it.
    Now my post isn't about trains but a different kind of adventure that raced us through a gazillion countries in just a few days. I thought the contrast was interesting.
    Love you friend,

  40. I've carried a duffle bag of doubt for longer than I'd like to admit. The freedom I've experienced since letting it go is almost magical. Only God could build my trust. And He did. I have many fond memories of train rides. So much fun.

  41. You did a fantastic job describing this luggage that wearies our efforts to move forward. When we choose to pack our bag of hope with the garment of grace He gives us, the load is light because we are exchanging our burdens for His and no longer traveling alone. ;)


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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