So, sorry that there was no blog yesterday - I think the lack of the blog wisdom probably was responsible for the stock market finishing lower, not to mention the flooding in Asia, all I can say is sorry. Seriously though, yesterday - for the first time that I can remember I just was not in front of the computer at all, all day. Nothing exciting or special involved just a day with other, non-computer tasks.
I did however read the daily lectionary and in this post will share a few thoughts from yesterday's passage from Luke 10. My plan is to do that now and then later today 'catch up' with thoughts on today's readings. We will see how that pans out.
Anyway, here goes.
As I was reading the Luke 10 passage, which begins with Jesus sending out 70 disciples to the surrounding regions to preach (with the words that 'the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few'), teach and heal in His name, I was particularly struck by the description of how they were sent out.
Here is what we have, starting at verse 3: 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
What I find interesting here is two-fold. First, in the beginning of this passage it says that Jesus was sending these 70 out to the communities where he intended to visit - so in a way they were preparing the way for Jesus, getting the people ready to hear and experience Jesus. They were also going to gauge people's willingness to hear and receive the Word of God through Jesus Christ.
So, the point is that Jesus had something riding on how 'successful' the disciples were. He was not sending them out as some sort of exercise or practice, but as the precursor to Jesus himself drawing near to them.
So with that in mind, we turn to the second interesting thing about this: that Jesus sends them out like 'lambs in the midst of wolves.' What is most interesting here is that it seems at least like this is a choice. Jesus is instructing them not to carry a purse or bag or sandals. He isn't saying 'even though you don't have any of those things, go anyway'. He seems to be saying don't take all that you have at your disposal - just go as you are, all by yourself.
This doesn't really make sense, at all, right? Why would Jesus not want the disciples to be as fully prepared as possible? Why would Jesus not want the disciples to use every resource at their disposal to 'succeed' in their mission?
As much as this doesn't make 'sense', there is precedent for it in the Old Testament. God has Gideon send home many of his soldiers (sorting them by how the drink water from a river) before entering a battle where they were already outnumbered; God has Joshua and his men march around the city of Jericho with trumpets playing - announcing their presence and giving away any tactical advantage they may have had - and eventually literally bringing down the walls without any military action.
In all these cases, what is the point? Why does God act in the way that he does, in those cases doing things that don't seem to make military sense and in this case why does Jesus not want them to use all that they have at their disposal?
I think the answer is about trust. Simply put, God wants us to trust him. On a daily basis God wants us to use the gifts, talents and abilities that we have been given to the best of our ability. But God doesn't want us to judge our 'ability' to fulfill a task or succeed at a goal based on our resources, our gifts or our abilities. It is a bit of a trite saying, but it is one that is appropriate here: God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called.
The point is that the truth is that if God has called you to something, you have all need to be 'successful' because you have God. When we fail at things that God has called us to it isn't because God failed us or because we didn't have all that we needed to 'do the job', it is because we tried to do it on our own or relied solely on our own gifts, talents, resources and abilities.
Again, I am not saying we are not supposed to use what God has given us - quite the opposite - what I am saying is that to fully and 'successfully' follow God's call on our lives and live into our part of God's plan we must always begin with trust and faith in God.
In certain times and in certain situations God we may be asked to do something we simply don't have the skills or resources to do on our own or we may be called to not use all that we have (as Joshua, Gideon and the disciples were).
Why? Not to make it harder, but to make it clearer to us and to all of those around that what is happening is happening because of the power of God and God's Holy Spirit working in and through us.
Philippians 4:13 says 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength' - I fully believe in the truth of this statement. If God has called us to do something, by definition we have what we need to do it. The question is are we willing to trust in God's strength enough to be faithful in trying even when 'we can't do it ourselves'?
The times in our lives when we are faced with great difficulty or great 'odds', I think are opportunities for us to grow in our faith and trust of God and allow God to use us and our lives to demonstrate to those around us the miraculous power of really, fully trusting in God.
The bottom line is that if we are willing to trust, really trust in God to be faithful to what we have been promised and live our lives according to that trust - it sets us up to witness and participate in extraordinary things, done in extraordinary ways. To live an extraordinary life - all for the glory of God.
We don't need to come prepared, we just need to be prepared to trust in the God who calls us.
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