Several years ago, one of our church members, together with his family was leaving for home in another South Asian country. They had not gone home for the last two years, and hence, were understandably, had overloaded luggage.
At the baggage check-in counter, what they heard were not unexpected – ‘Sorry sir, but you have excess baggage. You need to pay for them.’ Caught unprepared, he had to reluctantly borrow some money from me. Indeed, day by day, people are paying for excess baggage – both at the airport and in the journey of life.
The writer to the book of Hebrews, admonishes – ‘Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.’ (Heb. 12:1)
The Christian life has oftentimes been described as a marathon race. And rightly so. Along the way, however, some of us begin to load ourselves with unwanted and harmful baggage, weighing us down from running the race, so that we find our own spiritual lives sluggish and unfruitful.
Last week, our speaker described his given topic – Are we complacent with our relationship with God? – to be ‘sobering’. Arising from this sobering topic, he raised several other heart-searching questions, revolving around God’s Word, God’s Glory and God’s Concerns, all pointing to the question – are we complacent?
Many times, after having just undergone a crisis, we make statements like, “God’s wake-up call”. Having been awaken, it is quite normal to discover that very soon, after a period of time, we live as if we have fallen asleep again!
Isaiah reminds us in chapter 40:31, ‘But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’
In running the race of life, the encouragement from the Psalmist is to pant after God, liken to the dear panting for water (Ps. 42:1), instead of finding ourselves panting and trying to keep alive in our spiritual journey, because of the encumbrance of heavy excess baggage. Using the phrase of the last week’s speaker again, we need to conduct this ‘internal audit’ in relation to our walk with God. What are the excess baggage in our lives that are weighing us down? Are we marching victoriously forward or keep being pushed back by entanglements in this world?
I read that when Julius Caesar sought to ensure victory in Britain, what he did was to take a decisive step in his invasion. As his soldiers marched up the cliffs of Dover, Caesar got them to pause and look down into the water below.
The soldiers watched in disbelief. They saw that every one of their ship that crossed the channel were completely engulfed in flames. Apparently, Caesar had them torched so that there would be no possibility of retreat. Unable to turn back, there was only one thing in their minds – advance forward. As we in Bethesda Chapel seek to build bridges for the sake of the Gospel, we need also to burn the bridges that link and tempt us with excess baggage, built up by our complacency with the things of God.
Elder Richard Lai
 There is a Chinese idiom that says, ‘沉舟破釜’。The story behind it is fascinating, basically with the same lesson of resolutely advancing forward, with nothing to tempt one from looking back. Go and check out the story.