Today’s Reading: Luke 9:1-9. Genesis 28:10-30:24
He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt”. Luke 9:3
Yesterday I completed my first stint as a contract project manager. After completing 30 years as a permanent employee at the Steel Works earlier in the year, I found life as a contractor very challenging.
As a permanent employee at the Steel Works I had grown used to knowing that every fortnight the money would arrive in the bank account as usual with regular wonderful monotony. I had grown complacent knowing where I was working and who I was working for. For some this would be unbelievably boring. For me, this was cosy glorious security especially as my financial commitments grew in step with the number of Newings depending on me.
Therefore I found it challenging working as a contractor and difficult getting my head around the uncertainty of my new role. At one stage I didn’t know from day to day whether I would be working or not, or even where I should turn up to work – and I certainly had little way of forecasting how much money would be hitting the bank account every month.
Disciples on Mission
Therefore I have sympathy for the ordinary working men that Jesus selected to be his disciples and the instruction he gave them about what they should take with them on their first solo missionary expedition in Luke 9.
Jesus did not say “I want you to leave your wide-screen TV behind”, or “I want you to leave your smart phone on the kitchen bench overnight”. Jesus asked the disciples to give up the very basics – their clothing, their food, their staff – the very necessities to keep them alive.
Why did he do this? Surely the bible in other places encourages us to plan ahead, to provide for ourselves to do our best not to be a burden on others. In fact, this was one of Pauls boasts to the Corinthians – that while he was among them he was self-sufficient.
Did Jesus want the Disciples to starve, to go hungry, to walk around in daggy smelly old clothes? Was he looking to use a “natural selection / survival of the fittest” process to get rid of some of them – to weed out the weak ones?
Why would Jesus ask the disciples to do his work so completely unprepared when the work he had given them to do was so important!
Who are you depending on?
Perhaps the disciples felt the same way Gideon did when God sent the majority of his army home before attacking the Midianites (Judges 7) or when he asked Joshua to defeat fortified Jericho by prancing around it rather than attaching it with siege engines (Joshua 6) or when he asked 80 year-old Moses to lead his people out of slavery (Exodus 3).
Perhaps he was asking the disciples the same question he was asking me: “Who are you depending on? Are you relying on yourself to do what I have called you to do, or are you depending on me? Will God get the glory in this, or are you keeping it for yourself?”
The Lord promises to provide for us. One of my favourite “promise/passages” is Matthew 6. He promised to look after Joshua, and Gideon, Moses and the disciples – and he delivered! He promises to look after us in 2016 – and he will deliver!
The question for the disciples back then, and the question for us today is “do we believe God when he says to trust Him to provide?”
Thank you God that you provide all of our needs. Help us to rely on you and not on ourselves to complete the work you have given us to do in 2016. Amen