It is easier said than done, to let-go when changes occur. Some of these changes are physical, others mental or spiritual or emotional… none the less, there is a pattern that such changes follow that brings about despair or amazing chance.
It has occurred a number of times in my life and is about to happen again: leaving all materialistic stuff behind and starting a new life in a new place, on a new continent, in a new language.
Such change brings about emotional challenges such as saying good bye, excitement of the new, longing to hold on what was, fears of the unknown, and many others. There is a tension between what we consider good and bad feelings, or should I rather say, positive and negative feelings; though if we look at them openly and honestly they are in fact all positive or even neutral in character. They just are. They are normal. They cannot be denied and won’t go away. They might be pushed aside but are not resolved unless you embrace them and live through them.
Such change also brings along physical challenges. Those of starting a new home of leaving behind an old one (even in practical terms… getting a new bed, table, kitchen, clothes,…) of having to adapt to a new season, climate, language, etc pp. Continuing life with less materialistic luxury than you got used to over the past season in your life.
And there are spiritual challenges. Suddenly praying as usual feels different. Suddenly spiritual warfare needs to be dealt with differently and things you stand up for or against change. The calling to the new country can also entail challenges from God, can change your relationship toward Him, can be scary to exciting and could bring along insecurities God allows so you can grow in Him.
When I read in Luke 9:3, Mark 6:8 and Matthew 10:9 about what to take along as followers of Christ, when God sends us; the lists are similar and the symbolism the same… so I will stick to Luke.
Luke 9:2-4a And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.” Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city.…
So here we are instructed if we are to leave and proclaim the Kingdom of God. Let us remember that any follower of Christ is called as a disciple and that the above is our core message! It does not need a mission trip, evangelistic event or occasion. We are called to proclaim the Kingdom. So we can know this command is for our daily lives.
Allow me to attempt some interpretation on some of the things:
Take no staff: a staff is a symbol of authority and identity.
When I leave from one job to the next, most of the times, it helps little or even hurts new relationships when I arrive bragging about how great I was at my last post, what authority and knowledge and power I had. I will have a pretty lousy and hard time finding my feet.
Take no bag: what goes in your bag when you leave?
Mine contains memories, rituals of how to do things, own securities in essence that help me to be self reliant, no matter what shape they might take.
Take no bread: this reminds me of the Israelites in the desert. They could only harvest manna for that very day. It also reminds me of how God says we should never worry about what we feed on tomorrow.
If I move from one place to the next, I leave behind a spiritual home. If I take along the methods and habits and rituals of that old home to the possible next, I will start comparing constantly. Comparison kills in most instances. Spiritual food provided by a local church will never look the same when you move to a next place. However God does. His Bible does. And through such HE will feed us.
Take no money: When I take money, I become self reliant…
(I am not speaking of preparing with wisdom even financially.) Money often gives us a false sense of security. And thus when it fails, it leaves us in despair for something it was never really able to give.
Take no two shirts/cloaks: there are certain things that we desire to take out of fear and egoism. They cause excess baggage.
In the days of Jesus, taking a second garment would have meant excess baggage. It was not a usual thing to do either.
When I look at my own suitcase I am busy packing, I find there are things I desire to take, that cause excess weight. I desire to pack them because of the “but what if’s”. They cause an unhealthy focus on me, instead of the providence of God and are caused by a lack of trust in Him.
So why would God cause me to take no bread, no extra cloak, no money, no bag, no staff?
When God sends us on an adventure, we need to prepare. We need to use the brains God gave us. We need to be wise and make provision. However there ARE things we will be wise to do without.
For me these are:
My staff: it doesn’t help if I pitch and show off with who I have been in the past or what I have achieved. It will make building new relationships harder than it already is.
My bag: I need to embrace the fact that most things that create a comfort zone for me now, will change. Holding on to the old ways and trying to be self-reliant, will not be of help in this new environment.
My bread: I will need to find a new spiritual home, even when I will find support from my old one and will even stay in covenant with them. Unless I am open to the possibility of a new packaging to the same Gospel, I will struggle more than necessary and will be prone to attacks from the devil.
My money: For me that is symbolic of my library of books, my guitar, and other ways I self-reliantly learned to cope with emotional stress that help me to NOT rely fully on God. (Now I am not against ANY of these… but they should always bring me into His presence, not prevent me from facing my own emotions and His presence alike.)
My extra cloak: In my desperation and sometimes fear to let go all of the old and start anew, I sometimes embrace things in a manner that you would think they bring salvation. I believe I cannot do without them, it threatens me to let go of them. However if I am honest… I haven’t needed them here in the past season; they will not save me or make the difference hoped for. I hold on to them in my desire to keep the old and in doing so they increase my reluctance to embrace the new (as my arms are filled already and my focus is on ‘poor me’.)
Gods advice and instruction of what to take, applies perfectly to my life and the season I find myself in.
However no matter whether you find yourself in such a season, or just want to de-clutter your life a bit, His instruction will be able to lead you.
You will probably have to adapt the examples I used. You might even have to adapt the symbolism. Just remember that this is not something you should pretend will never apply to you.
I pray you life may be enriched by His presence, by an increased trust in Him and testimonies of His providence and love throughout your process of change.