Purse, Bag, or Sandals?

Description

Marybeth Whalen tells how being prepared helped feed her illusion that she could somehow control her future.

"Then Jesus asked them, 'When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?' 'Nothing,' they answered.'" Luke 22:35 (NIV)

I am a champion list maker and a detailed packer. I've learned when traveling to pack protein bars in case I get caught somewhere with no food. I've learned to take clothes and shoes that can be dressed up or down because you just never know. I've learned to pre-purchase travel-sized toiletries if I am flying. In short, I like to be prepared.

Being prepared feeds my illusion that I can somehow control my future.

In Matthew 10 Jesus calls the disciples, gives them authority in His name and sends them out, telling them to go minister to the lost sheep of Israel. He then tells them to take nothing with them—no money, no bag of belongings, not even sandals for their journey. Can you imagine being sent out like this? No time to pack. No time to shop. No time to make a list. Just go. The planner in me shudders at the thought.

And yet the disciples do just as Jesus asks. They return and later, in Luke 22:35, we get "the rest of the story." When Jesus sent them out with nothing they lacked nothing.

This verse jumped out at me when I read it. I thought of my own propensity to prepare. I thought of the panic that would rise up in me if I'd been asked by Jesus to just go. Then I thought of the many times I've let my need to prepare actually become a cover for simply not obeying.

Instead of taking action, I've stalled. My excuses sound really good — even biblical: I need more time to pray. I need to make a list of pros and cons. I need to talk to some friends, receive wise counsel. I need to spend more time reading the Bible. I need confirmation.

While these are all good things, I am not sure God means for me to do them all every time. Sometimes I think He just wants us to obey like He asked the disciples to do. But the truth is, the thought of venturing into Jesus' call and trusting Him to provide as we do feels...dangerous. It goes against our penchant for planning and our strong desire to control.

As His disciples, He wants us to have the kind of faith it takes to say "yes Lord, I will go." He wants us to fully trust in His ability to provide our every need, overcome our every complication, and supply every piece of information.

Perhaps God has asked you to do something that feels a bit like running out without purse, bag or sandals. Maybe He's asking you to go on a mission trip that scares you, to reach out to someone who frightens you, to tackle a problem that feels bigger than you...and you feel unprepared.

Jesus wants us to step out in faith, trusting that, like the disciples, on the other side of this adventure we will be able to say that we lacked nothing. Sometimes we don't need purse, bag or sandals. What we need most is faith in Him.

Dear Lord, I don't want to plan if I know You're asking for me to move. I want to listen for Your prompting and go where You say go. I don't want to rely in preparation as my comfort but in You as my provider. Help me to put my faith in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Today instead of preparing and prolonging, accept whatever God's been whispering to your heart. Then take the first step towards answering that call.

Reflections:

Do I get caught up in plans instead of achieving God's purposes? Do I let preparation become a form of procrastination? Am I hanging back when He wants me to move forward?

Power Verses:

2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us according to his glory and goodness." (NIV)

Nehemiah 9:21, "For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen." (NIV)

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