Monday, June 24, 2013

Take Nothing with You

Luke 9, 3-23

3. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no walking stick, no sack, nor food, no money, no second tunic" 

A few months ago, I reflected upon this passage because it really spoke to me. I've been wanting to share it since I wrote it down on a piece of scrap paper, so finally I took the time to type it out. 

Being on a mission means taking nothing with you. 

"no walking stick" 
In my life, the walking stick or staff is something, someone to lean on. Thus, to me, leaving the walking stick behind means having nothing to lean on. In other words, it's leaving behind emotional stability. For me this is the hardest one of all, because when you are home, you don't realize how much support and stability you have. People hold you up (emotionally) and it's really easy not to notice until you leave your "crutch" home and then you realize how much emotional support was given to you. Going out into mission means that you might leave your family far away, that you might go to a place where you don't know anyone, or where you don't know many. It's humbling and it's hard to take that step because being "on our own" is challenging. Sometimes we want to put our full support on people, when really we should be able to let God entirely support us and lift us up, or at least help us walk without the need of an extra "walking stick". I'm not saying it's wrong to lean on people, but that God is calling us not to lean our entire bodies and entire selves only on people. 

"no sack" 
Our sacks might be filled with little treasures, material things, and comfort. We leave the comfort of our homes to serve... We leave the familiarity we so much love... like coffee in the afternoons, our nap time, maybe our social media life, or texting... 

"nor food" 
This is our backup plan, things that sustain us other than God. Trusting on ourselves for our own providence and sustain. 

"no money" 
In regards to money, I think money represents trusting on our own strength, our ability to receive an income. In mission, sometimes we might need to give up our income to be able to serve the Lord.

"no second tunic" 
To me this represents our future plans, the things we will cover our lives with. Not bringing it with us is trusting God will provide. God will clothe us, God will protect us, spirit and body. 

4, Living like Pilgrims

"whatever house you enter" 
It is trusting your life in community. We don't enter into the homes of those who do not welcome us or who do not welcome Christ, for example in circles that reject Him. We want to lead a community of believers, we want to "shake the dust", the bad influences, but we still "testify" with our lives. We just chose not to enter in that life style of living as if God doesn't exist. We chose to "shake off" our bad habits, and live in the life and community God is calling us to live.

Mary and Joseph foreshadowed the life of mission at Jesus' birth, knocking on people's doors, asking them to let the Messiah in. We still proclaim the good news. We still knock on people's doors, not for us, but for Christ. 

Later in the passage, Jesus tells his apostles to take up their cross daily (Lk 9, 23), but that first they must leave it all. So we have to trust in the Lord, in his providence, before we even start our way to Calvary. We cannot take up the cross if our hands are full. 

So I've come to this conclusion, which comes back to verse 3: being on mission means taking nothing with you.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First Nights in Paris

It was a night like this a few years ago when I first learned what a woman wants. It bore similarities with my current situation: I was with another friend and we were in Paris. Smiling and walking around, sometimes randomly talking to a stranger, or a stranger talking to us. We would demand what they had said, as many guys would sometimes blurt out something in French, something that with my little French I wouldn't always catch.

Finally, my friend got tired of laughing and playing around. At the end of the night, that's when she said: "these guys are just boys. I don't want any boys. I want a man." I was nineteen, not super experienced, so I asked  what she meant. She told me you could tell when it was a boy or a man. That a boy would take a walk with you, sit on a bench (like we had just sat with a couple French guys earlier in the night, talking, flirting). "Boys don't want compromise, they just want to have a fun time. Men will invite you to sit down and talk, have a drink. They'll take the time to get to know you."  I knew what she was saying was something more than that, but I learned from her to set my expectations high, because boys sometimes never grow up. From that time on I also asked this question in my head when I met a guy: is this a boy or is this a man? And secretly, though I was young, I wanted a man and not a boy.

Here I am in Paris again, knowing that I'm not looking for a man anymore because I already have one. I'm grateful because I know I'm so blessed to have found him, so lucky that he noticed me. I think about this as I remember what I learned in Paris a few years ago, how to distinguish a man from a boy. I think about this as I miss my man.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The fears of the unknown

The fears of the unknown

I must say… I am a bit terrified. Somehow, this time, something is different. A lot of things are different. In the past, I was filled with hope and excitement, hungry for adventure. These last few days, I can only but wonder what will go wrong. What will go wrong, this time?

It’s not a pessimistic attitude, but a surrendering.  It’s surrendering the fact that something might go wrong, something out of my control, something I cannot change out of the blue. I make a recollection of previous “adventures” like missing a flight, losing my luggage, airlines not letting me board… And I’m afraid because I already know by experience many of the possibilities of what could go wrong when you travel. Even then, I know that I’ve been truly blessed, because the luggage that didn’t make it with my flight was shipped to my door; I’ve made it back when I missed a (short-distance) flight (though I got home broke, of course); and I’ve managed to board transatlantic airplanes even when Lufthansa  has just about refused to letting me board their planes (somehow I’ve been good at receiving  the worst customer service from Lufthansa the two times I’ve flown from Europe to America). In the end, things worked out. I went through some tears, sweat, and stress, but it turned out alright.

I feel a bit guilty because I know I should have more faith, I know I should have more hope. I trust that God will give me some because those I cannot get on my own. Even as my heart and my “security gland” stretch and pull from all sides for discomfort, I cannot do more than my best and put the rest in God’s hands. I want to trust, I want to think “all will go well”, but looking at my past experiences that would seem too na├»ve. Instead, I repeat in my head “something might go wrong, but I just don’t know what”. And it’s ok. You cannot prepare for everything (in life), but it is important to know you need to gather the strength to face challenges when they do come. Because you know they are going to come. Thus, I ask for your prayers and the grace of God, so that I can trust and live this experience fully. So that I can be strong when the challenges come. So that I can love, and give back from whatever I receive out of this far-stretched but necessary step in my journey.