He called on the twelve to go out in pairs. He gave them power over evil spirits. He forbid them to take any provisions for the journey, except a hiking pole. No food, no bags, no money in their pockets. He had them wear sandals, and let them take only one shirt.
“Whenever you go somewhere,” he told them, “stay in one house until you leave. If you and your message are unwelcome somewhere, just shake it off. They’re only condemning themselves.”
So off they went, telling people to turn their lives around. They threw out demons, and cared for the sick, anointing them with oil and making them better.”
I’ve had the opportunity to host a few missionaries over the years who were traveling around on the “raise money for the mission” duty. They were all fine folk. But the most amazing ones were the few that were traveling, not with a huge suitcase stuffed to the 50 lb airline weight limit and a carry-on, but the ones (I can remember two of them) who came with just smallish duffel bag.
They were the most amazing ones, not because their missions were worthier, but because instead of bringing lots of stuff, they brought great stories. Who doesn’t love a great story? They didn’t need to show you all the stuff because they could make the people they worked with in far away places come alive right there around your dining room table. They didn’t need to carry a month’s worth of clothes because they were utterly reliant on you saying, “Sure, we can just toss that in the wash.” And doing it wasn’t as much of an imposition as lugging the 50 lb suitcase up and down the stairs and out to the car.
Most of us probably have too much stuff. I know I do. Way too much. But I also know when I’m honest with myself, that just like the most amazing of the missionaries, it’s not about the stuff, it’s about the story. It’s not what I have today, but what I do today, that makes all the difference. What wrongs am I willing to confront? Whose life can I help to turn around? Who needs caring for? What can I do for someone to make them better?
Some days I live the story better than others. Some days I am more receptive than others. I suspect you are, too. Either way, I am a witness, whether for or against, myself.
But here’s the glorious thing: on the bad days, you get to shake it off and move on.