I have just returned from a vacation and I can say that I “packed just right”. I wore everything I packed in my suitcase and there were no times when I wished I had packed something more. Most of us have traveled with “way more” than we need to have packed. And, for sure, there are times when we wish we have packed a certain shirt or sweater that we had left behind. On my recent trip — I was spot on!
In Mark’s Gospel [6:7-13] Jesus sends the disciples out on mission with the instruction to “take nothing for the journey except a walking stick — no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however to wear sandals, but not a second tunic.”
Ok: before we get to thinking about excess baggage and dragging too much along with us, let’s look at some underlying principles offered by St. Paul in the letter to the Ephesians [1:3-14]. Before anyone of us can think about going on mission or doing a work or confronting a challenge —- before we even begin to think about what we “need to meet the challenge” or how we can “prepare ourselves”, there are some things — ACTUALLY SOME GRACES — that we have with us all the time. AND, we need to remind ourselves over and over about this — before we grab for any-thing.
FIRST — IN HIM WE WERE ALSO CHOSEN — In Jesus, I have been chosen by the Father and so have you. Chosen at the right time —
As a rather weak athlete, I know what it is like to be chosen last or next to last — not a good feeling. With God, I have been chosen — and you have been chosen for some unknown reason, for this time and this place. I am not a mistake — I am worthy! I am useful! I am needed!
Can we say that and mean it? Really??
SECOND — I AM DESTINED IN ACCORD WITH THE PURPOSE OF THE ONE WHO ACCOMPLISHES ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE INTENTION OF HIS WILL —
My purpose is unlike yours and yours is unlike mine — I may not be destined to have been the starting second baseman in a major league all-star game — so be it. But, we are all destined for a unique and special purpose —-
and that purpose may be defined and re-defined over and over again … my purpose today may be quite different from my purpose ten years ago …. in faith, though, God has a purpose and a reason for me to still be here ….
Believe that, too??
THIRD — WE EXIST FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY —
Wow — even I do not do anything great … or anything noticeable — but I am a reflection of God in the world, then I have done what God is expecting of me. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said so well: God calls me to be faithful, not to be successful. So, if I do my best to be good and to do some good, I have already achieved a purpose for which I was created!!
NOW we are ready to set out on mission — if we can hold on to the three principles above, then we will believe that: I am enough and I have enough. I am enough in myself — it is nice, it is helpful, it is good — when someone else comes along and I have the support of others …. but, if need be, when the chips are down — I am enough and I have enough — I can make it on my own with what I have — because, the one who called me, the one who chose me — the one who predestined me —- is still with me — and me and Jesus are a pretty powerful team.
The disciples went off without reservations for lodging, without the security of a debit card, without that expanding suitcase–to do their work. Jesus was trying to teach them to rely on themselves AND THE SPIRIT WITH WHOM THEY HAD BEEN SEALED.
At age 62, I realize more how little I really need. When people ask, what do you want for your birthday or Christmas or Father’s Day …. like so many of you, I know there is so little, if anything, that I need. Peace and quiet — time with good friends — a good meal, a bottle of wine —- AND A GOOD NIGHT OF SLEEP …. then I am ready for a new day.
After awhile, a good preacher will rely less and less on books on the shelf — and trust their hearts. A good parent begins to trust their experiences — and the little voice within them. Wit and humor has its place — but a sincere word of experience means so much — it connects with people more than a “trick pulled from a bag” or a lofty quote from a medieval poet.
One “trick of my travels” is to travel with clothes that have seen their better day — even a few with holes. AND THEN, THEY CAN BE DISCARDED — not even good enough to give away — and the bags are then lighter. Maybe some of us need to get rid of some “stuff” we keep packing — resentment, regret, anger — these are absolutely useless on TODAY’S journey.
With those three guiding principles above, the disciples were then strong enough to deal with REJECTION …. some people would not like what they had to say, some would not accept what they had to say, in some circles they would be just downright out-of-place — great line and great image —- just shake the dust from your feet and move on! BECAUSE THEY KNEW they already had God’s favor, it did not matter if someone or some group would not welcome them …. just move on.
There are too many people who do want us … there are too many situations that need us …. there are some areas where success might be a little easier — just go there. Do not waste time or energy on people or situations that are unwelcoming ———– and who knows, maybe later, they will be welcoming.
PARENTS: ever feel like your adult children just are not listening …. you keep talking, but have stopped listening long time ago!!?? Move on to another topic, another issue …. and MAYBE COME BACK SOME DAY ….it is not up to you. The disciples knew it was not about them — it was God working through them — there came success. AND IF SOMEONE DID REJECT ‘THEM’, then really they were rejecting the God within them … and God can handle rejection ….and he will keep coming back.
Count our blessings — not our failures. Count our joys, not our rejections. Keep on going as long as God wakes us up!