Friday, September 14, 2018

Hand me the pick-ax

Undeterred - not able to be restrained from action. Wouldn't most of us like to say our walk with Jesus is rather "undeterred" - there is nothing that distracts us, keeps us from moving forward, or discourages us in our pursuit of right-living? Truth be told, there are a whole lot of things that 'deter' us each and every day - most of which we have total control over! The commission given to the disciples was to "go", followed closely by "train". Both are significant action words - one suggesting we don't remain stagnant, firmly planted somewhere, not moving - while the other signifies a specific course of action. My BFF is bilingual and she often attempts to help me gain a little bit of conversational Spanish along the way. My Spanish is helpless! It is as though my mind has a barrier to retaining this stuff! She aptly points out that I have no problem learning something new when it comes to Excel database writing, so why do I have a road-block to learning Spanish? I think it has to do with the 'action' I invest in the pursuit! Much of what we realize in life is because of some action - we take steps toward something and we begin to see the progress made with each step. Many of us stop way short of the progress we should be making, simply because we don't take the next step!
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 MSG)
Where would we be today if the disciples just stopped short of their commission? The first churches wouldn't have been planted. The first missionaries wouldn't have carried the message outside of the city gates. The 'first' always marks the beginning - the hope is that their will always be a 'next'. Thomas Edison said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Sad truth, but the truth nonetheless. We often don't 'go' because it involves work. We don't 'train' because it is kind of hard to learn some of this stuff ourselves. We have a preconceived idea about how opportunity comes our way in life - we think silver platter, while God thinks 'get out the pick-ax'. We want it all when it comes to the blessings, but weare seldom comfortable getting out of our comfort zone when the blessing requires a little effort on our part!
While I know this passage is about the 'Great Commission' - the sending out of the disciples to make converts of many - I also think it applies to our everyday life. We need to see the pattern of go and train. As we go, we are learning. As we take action, results begin to follow. As we go, others are encouraged by our progress. It is a cycle - one goes, another is touched, now two are going, and so on. We don't 'go' alone. In just that same way, we aren't expected to learn the life lessons alone - we are guided into learning, but there is effort on our part to learn. We are given the tools, but we have to take them up and use them. I have lots of gardening tools, but my garden doesn't reflect anything about these tools until they are used. It may not reveal it was a pick-ax that loosened the soil beneath the surface, but without that pick-ax, the soil would be impenetrable. Without hard work, we might just not get 'trained' in the things God wants us to know and experience in life. Just sayin!