Lightening the load along the way

Father David Epps's picture

Several years ago, when my mother passed away, my brother and I were faced with the seemingly impossible task of dealing with all her “stuff.”

When Dad died in 1996, Mom really wasn’t at the place where she was willing to dispose of much of anything. Thus, when she died, there was over a half century of belongings, possessions, furniture, mementos, and anything else that one collects over time packed into a small mill village-style house. It took us months to finally clear out the house in eastern Tennessee.

I decided then and there that I didn’t want my kids to face the same thing when my time came. So, slowly, I have begun to give some things away. The process has been accelerated by the installation of new flooring and carpeting inthe house that we have occupied for some 18 years.

I have books — thousands of books. When I left my last church in 1996, I gave hundreds of them away to other ministers. It didn’t make a dent.

Last week,I had 17 bookcases jammed full of books, mostly reference and religious, in my home and office, with still more being stored in boxes that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Since I had to move these books anyway, since the flooring and carpet people were coming, I decided that this was a good time to begin to lighten the load a bit.

I have given numerous volumes to Immanuel Baptist College and Seminary in Sharpsburg with some of those books earmarked for Nigeria. I took some books to the library at Trinity Christian School. Others, I have sent to my father-in-law in Tennessee and some will go to the guest house at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. There was a load of fiction books that I dropped in a “book bin” in front of Kroger’s.

Some books I may send to Our Lady of Mercy High School and still others will wind up at the Public Library in Senoia. Some I will give away to younger ministers and, if we ever get a library going at our church, I’ll put most of the remainder there so that our seminary students will have access to ample resources.

I still have 15 bookcases full of books and haven’t yet touched the boxes. There is still much to do. As I get older, I am trying to lighten the load as I travel down my road.

I am also attempting to dump some ofthe emotional baggage that I‘ve picked up along the way. I decided that this past Easter Sunday would be my own personal “Day of Resurrection.”

By that, I meant that, if there were any people I needed to forgive, I would do it by Easter. If there were people who were still angry with me and I had attempted to make things right, I wouldn’t continue to carry that load after Easter Sunday. I determined that I would leave past failures, guilt, sins, regrets, remorse, disappointments, discouragement, anger, and other such baggage on the Lent side of Easter.

On Easter, I decided, the emotional baggage would become dead to me and I would arise on that day and look to the future with hope and expectation.

The results have been even better than I anticipated. I have come to recognize that there are just some events, circumstances, and people that I can neither change nor affect. They now are consigned to the past.

Today, as far as I know, I hold no resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, or anger toward any person. If there are those who still have issues with me, I am now unconcerned about it. I can do nothing more unless and until they choose to speak to me about it. I have chosen to empty a few shelves, and my life is now less cluttered than before.

I visited a religious blog the other day that claimed to help people through the hurts they had experienced in church or at the hands of pastors and priests. I was saddened by the comments I read.

Many of these people need desperately to lighten their load and walk in forgiveness and humility and let the “dead bury the dead,” as Jesus said. When it comes down to it, the decision to offload baggage is a choice.

As for me, I have many books and much baggage yet to shed and many closets and storage areas to unpack. Hopefully, I have plenty of time left, but one never knows.

When the time comes, I hope to pass with my shelves empty, my soul clean, and my life uncluttered. I owe that to my kids.

[Father David Epps is the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan, and serves as a bishop to Georgia and Tennessee. Services are held Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. Fr. Epps is also the vicar of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at The church has a website at]

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