Boy Scouts—“Be Prepared”
Jesus—”Be NOT prepared.”
Or, so it seems in Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 10. Jesus tells the apostles that they are going on a mission trip, but quickly adds: No bag. No money belt. No staff. No sandals. No outer coat—meaning undergarment only! I can hear Peter quipping, “We might as well go out naked.” “Now that you mention it…” Jesus might have quipped back.
A deep spiritual insight is presented here; the only way to be prepared for the ventures of our lives is to be completely unprepared, totally dependent, walking by faith–with just a few instructions on how to handle the inhospitable people we meet on the way.
What are you and I to do with this spiritual wisdom?
I always carried two large suitcases on my mission trips. One time, my second trip to Romania, my money belt held 25 $100 bills!
Do you know what a bug-out-bag is? Below is a picture of one. Many emergency response experts strongly recommend that every person have a bug-out-bag. It’s purpose? When your life is in danger, grab your bag. Make a quick get-a-way and survive on your own until it is safe to return home. (Dare I confess that I have an emergency kit in my car? And a spare tire. And a tool to smash a car window and cut a seatbelt. When is enough preparation enough? How can we possibly know?)
Is a bug-out-bag or an emergency kit proof positive that I do not trust God to take care of me? I wish life and scripture interpretation were as simple as this. Didn’t Jesus also tell a story about some very sorry bridesmaids who were underprepared; something to do with oil for their lamps?
Even more significant is the scene in in Luke 22. Jesus reminds the disciples of the time when he sent them out without resources for their journey. Then he tells them:
“But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one….” They said, “Lord, Look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.”
Enough for what? Prepared for what? Why did Jesus instruct the disciples to be well prepared at one time, and unprepared at another time? Would anyone like to hazard a guess? Would they need swords to defend Jesus? To expel the Romans from Israel? To flee for their lives?
I don’t know.
What I do know, what is obvious from the text, is that “now,” in this time, under these circumstances, it is critical that you be prepared; that is what Jesus seems to command the disciples. There is something about the “now” that is different from the “back then.”
What would Jesus have said to you and me about a bug-out-bag in our now?
“Now.” Is our “now” a time to be prepared? How prepared?
How should I know? But as I said, I do have a car emergency kit.
From his vantage point, Jesus knew what was around the next corner for his disciples. He told them to be prepared. Maybe the swords and the bag and the other preparations were a metaphor rather than a plan. Maybe Jesus was telling them that, now, following his earthly departure, they would always need to be ready. Was this a clarion call to an attitude of urgent preparedness?
For what does Jesus need us to be ready? How do we prepare for a future we cannot see? (Jesus did say that it is possible to read “the signs of the times. But, do we bother?”)
Have you asked Jesus for His advice? I have. That’s why there is an emergency kit in my car. And a map of the back roads between my home and my children and grandchildren. Anything else? A bug-out-bag? Drinking water? A sword; or a gun? Have you asked for spiritual guidance?
Or, must our preparations for the unknown tomorrows of our lives, in these frightening times, be only emotional and spiritual, rather than physical?
More to follow. (Or, read chapter 14 of my book, “God Is Just Love”, for some insight into how we are living amidst such unanswerable questions.)