Jesus had just given the twelve specific power and authority, and though we do not get to listen to His words of commission (Luke 9:1-6), we are allowed to listen to His send-off message as He sanctions their first solo sojourn into kingdom work. He wasn’t going with them, but He placed within their hand the only key. “Take nothing….”
At first glance, we might be tempted to see these words solely as an opportunity to exercise faith, faith in God’s leading and God’s provision of physical needs – of food, of rest, of welcome. I know I do, and it puts me immediately in mind of great men of the faith like George Mueller. But I feel a nudging in my heart to look deeper, to listen more discerningly.
What was the true commission? A commission of ministry. What were they to take? Nothing! Why? Because it was God’s work … all God’s work, of which they were the blessed vessels through which the word and power of God would flow. Any and every part of themselves needed to be left behind, on the altar so-to-speak.
So often stepping into an area of ministry, an area of service, the servants of God carry on their sleeves if not outright pushing before them, an agenda. And no matter how beautifully wrapped, it is still their agenda. All these ‘parts of themselves’ needing propagated and validated as they minister become a framework of their own ministry-design. Inevitably, operating from framework-ministry boils down to little more than a ministry of their own ideas ‘being served’ rather than genuine service. But where is the true servant’s heart in that way of ministering … the attitude of dependent obedience we see modeled by Jesus?
I hear Jesus say, “Take nothing…” As He, Himself, took nothing. (Phil. 2:5-8) Over and over throughout the gospels we hear Jesus say, “ I do only what I see my Father doing. I say only what I hear my Father saying.” Total dependence – no game plan of His own perception – no seeking better ways to make ‘ministry’ work. No looking around to ‘see if it’s growing.’ Now that’s scary. That’s true faith in action. That’s obedience to the commission of take-nothing ministry.
I know I’ve sought, over the years, insight into any ministry God might have for me. But listening now I hear Him say, “OK! But take nothing….” And the pillars of my security shake … and I’m not so sure I have the courage to step out … with only Him. I’ve become too comfortable with myself, with my thoughts, my ideas, my understanding, and being commissioned to leave it behind … well, that’s another step all together … an alien step. No wonder He sends the Comforter each step of our way.
May the Lord open my ears to His voice. A voice consistently reminding me that any genuine ministry of my life must simply flow from being an emptied vessel through which His words and touch spill out to others.
Lord, as much as I would like to leave this as words to others, You and I both know that I carry ‘agendas’ with the best of them. They may be mostly unspoken, but they are still part of the pride-baggage that accompanies so many of the steps on my journey with You. Why, Lord, do I find it nearly impossible to just allow You to do and be within me? Pride is that virulent, with its barbs solidly hooked … not just in my flesh, but in my heart. Like a weed sending secret feelers buried deep and hidden from the eye, none of my attempts at pulling it up will root it out. But, Lord, You’ve provided the weed killer in the precious blood of Your Son. Pour it in abundance upon the soil of my soul. Kill the weeds to the very roots that would choke out any part of You … of Your voice … of Your will …of Your work within my life. And, Lord, teach me to ‘take nothing’ – to leave all of myself upon the altar each morning before I even start my day. How I long to not get tangled in the web of the world’s understanding. You poured out Your truths into Solomon, who from them speaks Your heart to me. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” I turn to those words, time and again, but still – it is my understanding from which I walk, from which I speak. Will the truth never plant itself into the mortar of this earthen clay? Will heaven’s watering continuing to pass right through without bringing growth to the seeds You plant so faithfully within my heart? Take nothing…take nothing…take nothing …but ME! May my heart at last lay hold of, and walk in, this truth. Amen. May it ever be ...
Amen. Sister, I just had to minister to someone the other day who was on their deathbed. This makes number six now. (Dying people the Lord has sent me to. I actually got stuck in OK an extra day... and now I know why.) Seems it is an area of ministry the Lord called me to and I must admit that there's nothing fun about it. If I take my own ideas, opinions, etc, I'm in trouble. I have to depend fully on Him because I imagine that I will have to answer for every word spoken to those people when I reach the other side. I don't even take my own thoughts with me to those bedsides. I know that God wants them ministered to for some reason or another before they die. That's all I need to know. Now think about it... every person you ever meet for the rest of your life is going to die... someday.
Thank you for being obedient to write His heart. This ministered in such a special way. I am so glad that I don't have to serve Him in my strength because I would fall so short in my striving. We must daily yield to His leading in our ministries. Thank you.