In the Gospel reading for the weekend of July 11/12, Jesus sent His twelve disciples out, two-by-two, to preach in the surrounding villages. Scripture explains, “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money.”
How strange. Jesus sent them out on an important mission without any supplies at all. If I had been one of the Twelve, I would have complained, “Hey Jesus, how do you expect us to be successful if we go wandering out there without any food or money or important stuff?”
At minimum, I would require: cash, credit cards, snacks, sunglasses, bug spray, bottled water, snacks, road maps, iPhone, flashlights, first aid kit, snacks, raincoat, umbrella, toothbrush, extra clothing, GPS, batteries, laptop computer, and just in case, extra snacks. And of course, if we were going to be away overnight, I would need a lot MORE stuff.
What was Jesus thinking sending those guys out with nothing but the tunic on their backs? It’s almost as if He was expecting them to trust in God for all their needs. What a weird concept. Trust in God? Who does that nowadays?
Oh sure, we believe in God…most of the time. And we trust in God to meet our needs…in an abstract, general sort of way. We know that when we’re 90 years old and on our deathbed, we’ll be able to look back on our lives and say, “Yep, God took care of me and helped me through the tough times.”
Yes, we trust in God, generally speaking, but what about the real world? What about today, tomorrow, and next week? There are real problems to deal with here. The mortgage is due, the job is stressful, the car is making a funny noise, the teenager kids have green hair and half a hardware store piercing their various body parts, and a sharp pain just below the ribcage keeps waking you up in the middle of the night. You know what I mean, real problems.
Certainly we can’t get all silly and spiritual and pretend like we can trust in God to deal with real here-and-now problems, can we? After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God helps those who help themselves? (Well, actually, the Bible says nothing of the sort. I did a computer word search. It ain’t in there.)
One of the main themes of Scripture is that God helps those who are helpless and who trust totally in Him. This is a completely foreign concept to modern Americans. We need to be in control and have all the bases covered. Apparently, trusting God wasn’t a problem for Jesus’ disciples since they went out on their merry way—without ANY supplies—and had a very successful journey preaching in the countryside.
So what is Jesus trying to tell us this week, sending the guys out two-by-two but without any supplies? It’s simple: we must trust in God and assist one another. He didn’t send them out alone. He sent them out in pairs so they could help and encourage each other.
This is the exact opposite of what we do. We don’t trust in God and we depend only on ourselves: the quintessentially American “Lone Ranger, John Wayne, I did it my way” mindset.
One of the mottos of Alcoholics Anonymous is, “Let go and let God.” One of the hardest things in the world is to admit we can’t do everything ourselves and we need God’s help. But if we are able to take Jesus at His word and trust in Him for everything—even the here-and-now everyday stuff—our lives will be transformed and our journey will be successful.
And it probably couldn’t hurt to bring along a few extra snacks.