Happy Thursday friends! The end of another week is just around the corner. You can do it! I actually really love Thursdays during the school year because I know it’s the last night I have to do homework until Sunday, ha. (Weird logic, I know and probably not the best mentality to have when I’ve got an exam on Monday. Oops) So here’s a post for you to kick of the weekend. Some thoughts on Matthew folks.
When I was placed as a YL leader in February, I happened to be reading through Matthew. I love this book of the bible because we get to see Jesus’ heart for others, how he interacted with them, and what he said as both a teacher and a friend. It’s like the inside scoop on Jesus’ life.
After being placed as a leader, I was reading Matthew 10 where Jesus is preparing to send out his 12 disciples into ministry. I didn’t plan on it, but it just happened to be an appropriate reading considering my new entrance into ministry. He instructs them concerning their travels, what they are to do during their time of ministry, and what they can expect.
“Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or staff…Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.” (Matt. 10: 9-11)
In a reading plan I’m doing this summer with YL, we read Mark 6 which depicts the same scene that is in Matthew but in this account Jesus tells the disciples to take no food with them. If these instructions weren’t challenging enough, in verse 16 of Matthew 10 Jesus says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Some encouragement huh? If I were a disciple I would definitely be having doubts about the ministry life I agreed to.
I mean, how is any of this good? Why would God set up the ministry of Jesus’ closest followers in a way that seemed so daunting, intimidating and all-together uncomfortable? Wouldn’t the easy way be best? Ya know, a ministry full of success and prosperity?
So here’s my thought: If we believe in an all-knowing, all-good God then we have to believe that God was purposeful in setting up the ministry of the disciples in this way. If you read my post from a few weeks ago I talked about how God’s plan and reasoning are often beyond our ability to see and even comprehend. Maybe this was the case here. What if God was setting up the ministry of the disciples in such a way that would leave them completely dependent on him? By sending the disciples out with no money, food, or plans for shelter these men would have to rely on God to provide for literally every need. Imagine how their faith grew as a result. It might not have been easy but had the easy life been handed to them there would never have been a need to seek God’s provision and guidance throughout their ministry.
We quickly get anxious when we exit the “success” zone of life. As soon as finances are tight, events don’t go as planned, goals are not reached, and life gets tough we find ourselves distressed because we feel that something isn’t right with our lives. But maybe what we see as wrong with our lives God sees as good because it is an opportunity for us to turn our eyes to him and come to a place of remembering our complete dependence on him.
Have you ever noticed your prayer life spiking when life seems to get off course? In Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Tim Keller wrote, “To pray is to accept that we are, and always will be, wholly dependent on God for everything.” If being out of the “success zone” leads us to prayer and helps us to remember our full dependence on God, to notice our inability to be successful on our own, and to recognize our need for his leading, then maybe some turbulence isn’t so bad.
So what if we changed our perspective on the struggles we are facing today? In the midst of stress and uncertainty what if we viewed this time as an opportunity to rest in humility, seek God in prayer, and to remember that we weren’t made to handle life on our own?
I started this year off by talking about perspective and I think it continues to be a theme in the lessons I see myself learning. I know some of these posts sound similar and maybe I’ve even repeated an idea or two, but I think wrapping our minds around the problem of pain and struggle is crucial to our walk with Christ.