Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Journey, part 8: The Absence of Money

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 9:3 NASB)

It is one thing to travel without a bag, bread, or change of clothes. It is another thing all together to travel without money. Traveling without money means that you cannot purchase replacements for the things you have left behind, food along the way, or safe housing for the night. Going without a supply of money means that you are utterly, completely dependent upon God for your daily needs. 

The problem with no money is that God may not see our needs the same way we see them. What if God prefers that I drink water? That cup of Nespresso I enjoy in the morning may seem essential to me. What if your luxury vehicle is not a need in God's eyes? Except for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus walked everywhere He went.  What if the variety and type of food you enjoy is a want instead of a need in God's eyes?  The Israelites ate manna in the wilderness for decades, and God was clearly satisfied with His provision. Sometimes He places us in a palace, but sometimes He does not. 

There is another problem with no money. We not only have to depend upon God for provision, we cannot depend upon ourselves. There is a vast difference between walking the path of abandon with a few hundred dollars tucked back "just in case" and walking the path of abandon with nothing but the favor of God. In the first instance, there is the possibility of "treating" ourselves or rescuing ourselves. In the latter, the only treats or rescues will come by the hand of God. 

As the disciples followed Jesus, they watched Him feed the multitudes with a meager supply of fish and bread. They knew He could feed them because they had seen Him do it. When they headed out on this new adventure, what they had seen before reassured them that He could provide. It was only because of the relationship with Him that knowing He could became knowing He would. 

There are millions of believers around the world who live in this penniless (or nearly penniless) state. It is not because they will not work or because they would not enjoy something "nicer".  Many live in difficult situations because they were born there and they do not have the power or ability to change their situation, because circumstances have changed due to persecution, or because they willingly sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Even in their suffering, they can find joy in the journey and a ready Helper along the way. 

What does this mean for those of us living in affluence? We would do well to take a look at our lives, recognize our indulgences, and offer them to Jesus. Willingly sacrificing those non-essential  things we enjoy, at least for a time, can be a kind of fast, and will help us to see the faithfulness of God. 

When we are blessed with abundance, we are expected to help those without. Look for opportunities to help those in need, and ask God to allow us to see the needs around us through His eyes.  

We may never be called to be penniless, even for a time, but we are all called to the journey of utter abandon to God, depending upon Him not only for our daily bread but also for every need along the way. When we walk this path of abandon, we, too, will find that knowing He can provide soon becomes knowing He will provide.