Matthew 10:5-10 MSG
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.
OH, how I wish I’d been taught this when I first became a believer. To have had practical experience sharing the gospel right where I was would have been beneficial. Oh, I did this a little bit…I was so “on fire” for the Lord, and He changed me so much! I shared Jesus with my sister, and a few others in my immediate environment…but I didn’t know fully the power that was at my fingertips…and before I knew it I was applying to work on a ranch in Mexico with deaf children.
If you’ve known me for a while (or read my book) you know that as much as I heard God call me, what He called me TO was so different. He was calling me to have a willing heart to leave the comfort of my Southern California home with all its bells and whistles. He was calling me to think of someone besides myself. He was calling me to choose the hard things so I would learn to depend on Him. But He wasn’t calling me to go.
After I couldn’t pass the medical exam, and during the time the doctor was trying to discern what was wrong with me (early signs of an autoimmune disease) I missed the window to join the team. People questioned if God really asked me to “go,” they questioned if I was really sick, they questioned everything about me! It was such a discouraging season, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but God pulled me through. It was for sure a “hardest thing” and He grew me in ways I could not have imagined. (He did send me other places around the world, and they were a different kind of hard, but each time He continues to grow me.)
Lord, help us to remember that You have placed us where we are for a purpose and Your plan. We don’t have to wait until we get things together to begin building relationships and reaching others in the name of Jesus. Give us the courage and wisdom to know how to pray for our neighbors, and break down barriers so we can find out what we have in common and build friendships from there. If You have put other Christians around us we don’t have to ignore them, teach us to be a team and to pray for our lost neighbors, no matter how different or difficult they are.
I also ask that You will remind us that sometimes we have to choose the hardest thing, and that might mean staying right where we are. As interesting and exciting as it may be to live a life abroad, or even in another neighborhood, sometimes we have to choose to stay put. Sometimes the hardest thing is leaving family and close friends too, so help us know Your will in each decision before us. Help us to choose whatever will help us to grow closer to You, to be in the best place to grow Your Kingdom. In Your name I pray, amen.
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