Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Journey, part 7: The Luggage

And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. (Luke 9:2-3 NASB)

I'm not sure how the discussion in the restroom between Sunday School and worship service started, but Ellen Johnston and I were talking with Lucy Hilbun about her remarkable ability to travel light. She has the impressive record of carrying only 13 pounds of luggage for an international trip. My tendency is to plan for every contingency, pack accordingly, then add a little extra. Lucy, however, has "traveling light" down to a fine science. Her remarkable packing abilities are nothing in comparison to the journey of the twelve, though.

When Jesus told the twelve what to pack, it could be summed up in one little word. Nothing. Take nothing. They were not to take a staff, a bag (neither suitcase or lunch bag), bread, money, or change of tunic. It was the ultimate in packing, because there wasn't any. He said to go, and that's what they were to do. Go. He had already done the equipping and what He had provided was all they needed. 

A recent invitation to a wilderness crisis medicine course caused me to seriously evaluate my ability to pick up and go. I have so many responsibilities that my mobility is limited. Don't get me wrong. I love my responsibilities, consider them God-given, and am not eager to divest myself of a single one. It does seem, though, that more mobility would free me to obey a little quicker in matters of going. 

With that said, we would do well to consider the going of these twelve disciples. There was no food in their packs (and there were no packs), no extra clothes, no medical supplies for the job of healing, no cards to register decisions, no literature to hand out. There were none of the things we might consider essential for a medical mission trip. 

All they carried was the power and authority of Jesus with the truth He had already planted in them, and it was enough. Some of these men were successful businessmen-laborers (the fishermen) and some, like Matthew, were wealthy because of their employment.They were accustomed to being comfortable, and having what they needed readily at hand.  The fishermen went to work with an entire fishing boat full of equipment. Suddenly, they were going to work for Jesus with what seemed like nothing. This was an astounding challenge for them, and it cannot have been easy. 

Why would Jesus ask them to travel in this manner? Perhaps what He wanted them to understand was that He was all they needed. Perhaps it is that same reason that causes Him to allow the kind of suffering in our lives that strips us of all we hold dear. We, too, must learn that, when everything is stripped away from us, Jesus is not only enough, our Lord is all we need. 

Are you experiencing a hard and lonely time? Is yours a "stripped down to the basics" journey? These disciples had nothing with them and nothing to fear, nor do you, because what they had was enough. The intimacy with their God had equipped them for whatever they encountered on their journey. It is in the intimacy of relationship with the Most High God that we, too, become equipped for our journey. 

Although not recorded in this passage, there are four little words that make this kind of journey both possible and successful. "Thy will be done."  When the twelve took the first step on their journey, that is exactly what they were saying. If this journey was His will for them, then they were going exactly the way He said, and we should, too. 

When we face one of those dark nights of the soul when all is stripped away, what is there that remains? If what we find is our God and a willingness to obey no matter what, then we have exactly what we need to make the journey all the way through. Bend the knee, bow the head, and cry out to our King. "Not my will, but Thy will be done!" Let the journey begin.