As a former Girl Scout I have diligently followed the motto “Be Prepared” my whole life. At least I’ve tried. In my car I keep umbrellas, towels, scissors, really anything one might possibly need while away from home. And sure, I don’t have jumper cables, but I do have a roadside assistance policy.
You can imagine my surprise then as I was reading through the book of Luke recently and came to these verses from Luke 9:1-4:
One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.“Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town.
AND, in Luke 10:1-4 Jesus basically repeats the same instructions to 72 other disciples.
Wait a minute, Jesus! Take NOTHING for the journey? Let me get this straight; Jesus sent the disciples out on the road without food, money, or even a change of clothes? Seriously, you should see my suitcase when I go on the road. I never leave home without at least two (and more likely three) pairs of shoes. There is ALWAYS food in my suitcase – always. (Although to be fair, that’s mostly because of my food intolerances.) And, if I’m traveling into a foreign country there are water bottles. Yes, I said water bottles. Full ones – Dasani. Choking down some of the supplements I take is hard enough, but choking them down with gross water is next to impossible. Like I said, I like to be prepared. By the way, the other great thing about bringing water on an overseas trip is that I know without a doubt that once I drink the water I’ll have plenty of space and “available weight” to bring home souvenirs, should I so desire.
But let’s get back to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples. No change of clothes? Really? First off, that has got to be stinky! And these were the pre-deodorant and toothpaste days; although they did have chewing sticks made from aromatic tree twigs. (By the way, click here for a fascinating read about the history of toothbrushes and toothpaste. There weren’t classes on obscure history like this when I was in school.)
What does one do with this kind of information? I mean it’s clear that Jesus was not a Boy Scout, right? Just like the Girl Scouts, they too have the “Be Prepared” motto and without a travel bag, it’s next to impossible to be the slightest bit prepared unless the pockets in your tunic are huge.
Was Jesus telling them that they needed to “go into all the world” smelly and starving? I don’t think so. I think (and keep in mind I’m not a great theologian) that Jesus was saying, “You need to be more concerned about telling people about me than you are about what you look like or how you’re going to eat. Instead of focusing on yourself, put your efforts into showing people my love and praying for their healing. I’ll make sure that all of your needs are provided for if you can simply trust me.”
Simply trusting Jesus sounds a lot easier than it turns out to be. It’s so easy to take our eyes off of him and focus them directly on ourselves: our problems, our illnesses, and our lack of convenience. We might even be busy focusing on our absence of make-up or clean clothes. I know in my own life I can get pretty wrapped up focusing on my pain or my fear instead of simply fixing my eyes on the One who promises to care for my every need.
I guess it all really boils down to this: if you want to “Be Prepared” for anything that could possibly happen, what you need most of all is Jesus. He’s the mender of our souls, the healer of our bodies, and the Savior of our very lives. Jesus might not have been a Boy Scout, but without him it’s really impossible to “Be Prepared.”