When we prepare for vacation as a family we use a lengthy packing list to make sure we don’t forget anything. Over the years the list has grown to multiple pages and dozens of items as we learn that we should have brought more sunscreen and less clothes. (Or you might suggest more clothes so we don’t need as much sunscreen!) As you read this week’s Gospel about Jesus sending the twelve disciples out notice what is on Jesus’ “packing list” in the first part of the passage.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. Mark 6:7-13
It is clear that Jesus is challenging the twelve to not worry about their normal everyday needs and comforts. The only things they are to take are a walking stick and their sandals. His message to them? “Trust in God to take care of your needs. I want you to focus on the task at hand.” In fact, the disciples could not have prepared themselves for what they were about to experience. They simply needed to be willing to do as Jesus asked.
How much of our lives are scripted and guided by lists and plans? Our plans! Are you willing to step out for Jesus with just a “walking stick and sandals”? Are you willing to trust Him wholeheartedly? I believe that our culture encourages us to eliminate the risk associated with trusting God and our human nature struggles with willfully seeking to control our results in all that we do. How do we overcome all of these pressures to trusting God?
Imagine for a moment the return of the disciples from their journey. I can imagine them breathlessly sharing their memories of the amazing things that God did when they trusted Him. Perhaps they shared with Jesus how people opened their homes to them so graciously. They might have talked excitedly about how things didn't turn out as they expected, which was a good thing!
Are you willing to put your lists and plans aside and trust God to see what He can do through you? It will not and should not be easy. Would we even need God if it was? The beauty of this kind of trust in God is that we can’t even begin to dream of the kind of breathtaking results He can produce.
We laugh about our Vacation Packing List. More importantly we marvel at what we experienced that we could not have planned ourselves. Here is an example in a stunning photograph that my daughter Sarah took with her phone on one of our vacations.
Trust God to show you what He has in store for you over the horizon!