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Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the art of spontaneity, but not in the manner you might think. While many kids love the excitement and cheap thrills of surprises, hidden gifts, and secret ambitions, I wanted to know when they were coming so I could ensure I had the best possible time.
For example, if my mom was having a surprise birthday party, I wanted to help plan the party to confirm that I would have a good time. This would usually include making a list of who was invited, the food we would have, and the games we would play. I began calling it planned spontaneity. An oxymoron of sorts, but it fit my personality nevertheless.
Over the years, I grew to fit this definition more and more, and it clearly extended from the extent of birthday parties. Throughout my twenty-six years of life thus far, I have helped plan dozens of parties, dates, and activities with the hopes that I would fill my agenda to the brim and experience the most joy possible.
But sometimes, I wonder, is it possible for me to fully embrace a place of true spontaneity? Is it truly within reach and feasible for me to be comfortable with embracing the unknown and not having a plan? As my boyfriend calls it, am I able to wing it?
And if I am being completely honest, the answer is probably no. I, by my own power and might, am not able to let go and just be. I have a very hard time sitting still and just being, after all.
But when I was reading Luke chapter 9 this past week, I realized that God does not ask me if I am able to be in this place, He tells me that by His power all things are possible.
Beginning at verse one, Jesus has just named and called His Twelve Disciples to go and make more Disciples of all nations. He tells them that they will be fully equipped with His power, but also to take nothing with them.
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere” (Luke 9:1-6, New International Version).
Now I don’t know about you, but while I am all for following Jesus where He leads, I am not sure I would feel so confident going into a foreign land without any supplies. To me, that sounds like going on a mission trip or vacation without packing food, water, or clothes. Stress, chaos, fear, and worry!
When I was in college, I had a friend who served on The World Race Mission Trip. If you are unfamiliar with this group, they basically serve the Lord for 11 months in 11 different countries, fully relying on Him to provide for their food, finances, and shelter. It is no ordinary mission trip, and it requires no ordinary heart to embark on such a journey.
While trips like that scare me to death, and I have never personally felt called to go on them, I cannot help but think of the comparison between them and when Jesus called His Disciples here to “take nothing for the journey”.
As the Passion Translation writes, “Jesus summoned together his twelve apostles and imparted to them authority over every demon and the power to heal every disease. Then he commissioned them to proclaim God’s kingdom and to heal the sick to demonstrate that the kingdom had arrived. As he sent them out, he gave them these instructions: “Take nothing extra on your journey. Just go as you are. Don’t carry a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes. Whatever home welcomes you as a guest, remain there and make it your base of ministry. And wherever your ministry is rejected, you are to leave that town and shake the dust off your shoes as a testimony before them.” The apostles departed and went into the villages with the wonderful news of God’s kingdom, and they healed diseases wherever they went” (Luke 9:1-6, The Passion Translation).
So why did Jesus ask His Disciples to take nothing with them? Why did He ask them to embrace fully spontaneity and not Amber’s version of planned spontaneity? Because their mission required total obedience and faith beyond what they could see. And I often wonder if the reason God doesn’t reveal all the details to which He calls us is that He knows we might get overwhelmed, and scared, and run away from the good plans He has set for us.
As the Passion Translation clarifies, Jesus told His Disciples to go empty-handed because it would require them to trust Him as they walked in faith. Jesus told them not to bring “a staff, a backpack, food, money, not even a change of clothes.” Is it not a coincidence that the five items He told them not to bring were things that could be found in Him?
He is our staff, someone we can lean on, and will lead, guide, and direct us in the way we should go.
He is the strength that sticks to us like glue and holds everything we need for the challenging journey ahead.
He is the Bread of Life and Well that never runs dry,
He is our treasure worth far more than all the diamonds gold, silver, or rubies could ever buy.
He is our protector of righteousness, clothing us with every piece of spiritual amour needed to live in the fullness of His glory.
Today, I am challenged by this thought: Would we trade having all of God’s power in exchange for having our earthly comforts and securities like basic necessities? On the surface, we are inclined to think yes, we would absolutely take God’s power over the things that make life liveable. But at a deeper level, would you really trust Him to go into an unknown place without anything, praying and trusting He would provide? Not only for your spiritual health, but for your mental, physical, and emotional dimensions as well.
It is my prayer that just as God blessed and called His Disciples to such callings, we would rest steadfast in His promises, even when we don’t have the pen that writes and orchestrates them. Because His promises are true. Not one will ever return void. And He who made the promises keeps them. We were never meant to carry the pen.
“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (Proverbs 20:24, New Living Translation).
“For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out [from the spiritual exile caused by sin and evil into the homeland] with joy and be led forth [by your Leader, the Lord Himself, and His word] with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:10-12, Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).