“I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves. Do not carry a walking staff or traveling bag.” (Luke 10:2)
Can you imagine that? When my family goes to the beach for a few hours, we carry beach chairs and blankets, towels for each of the children, a cooler with sandwiches, soft drinks, water, and snacks, toys for the beach. A week’s vacation looks like moving day, with all the suitcases. Yet, Jesus said to His disciples, “Travel light.” His message to them and to us is “Trust in My Providence. Go and spread the good news and I will take care of your needs.”
As adults, we have come to trust in our own ability to provide for ourselves. Giving control to God is very difficult for us because it is submitting to the will of God.
That is frightening to us because we don’t know where it will lead us. I’ve often thought of how tough it is for me to be a passenger in the car when my wife drives. I am placing myself in her hands and I cannot control where the car is going, how fast it is moving and the brakes on my side of the car don’t work. That’s the way it is when I turn my life over to God. He is in control.
Jesus sent the 72 disciples out on a mission to spread the Gospel and said, “Trust in God.” He also sends us today and tells us the same thing. He invites us to experience the freedom of our childhood when we didn’t worry about the mortgage, or providing our food, or paying bills. We played most of the day with our friends and came home to cooked meals. We slept secure at night because we knew that our parents were there and nothing could happen to us.
We were worry-free, but we didn’t really appreciate it. Most of us couldn’t wait to be free to do what we wanted, when we wanted to do it and not have a curfew. We considered that freedom. Yet, we have learned that freedom isn’t free; with freedom comes responsibility. Many of us look back to the days of our childhood as the “good old days.”
Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us how God will provide for us: He offers us the freedom to be His children, but we fear what that will mean for us if we give up control and let God be in charge of our lives.
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
… so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem, you shall find your comfort.
Jerusalem today's the church of Christ. Again, we get the message that God will bless His children and provide for us. However, you and I may not be able to accept that. We may not have enough faith. Mother Teresa gave up everything, had nothing, and yet no one was happier than she was.
Look again at the Gospel, and listen to the witness of those 72 who trusted Christ’s words.
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Yes, they rejoiced and we will, too when we accept Christ’s invitation to be His disciple and to turn our life and our fortune over to Him. His word is true and His promise lasts forever. I can attest to you that God has been very generous to my wife and me since we have invited Him into our lives and given Him control. None of us really has control over what we will do or where we will be. We do not control the weather, the economy, or people around us. Anything can happen to turn our world up side down in a moment we least expect.
For 70 years my family and I were healthy, with few things to upset our lives. On December 27th, 2012, I underwent an emergency three-hour operation. Afterward, the doctor told my family I had a 50/50 chance of survival. How quickly things changed in our lives! But here I am. My mission is not completed. God has more work for me.
I have since had 10 more surgeries for different health issues, yet, we are confident that God is taking care of us and providing for our needs. As Isaiah said in the first reading:
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.
During my illnesses I have felt the comfort of Christ as I had never felt it before and I can thank God for that opportunity.
How often we hear Christ’s words in the Gospels: “Go in peace, your faith has saved you.” Believe and live what you believe!
Let go and let God