We have been given a 4 page packing list of what to bring and what not to bring to Tsumkwe. So what should we actually stuff into our 6 trunks to take with us. I was reading a devotional a couple weeks ago from another missionary about simplicity. She tells the story of an African evangelist in Uganda who set an example for the simple life. He carried a briefcase which inside he had a Bible and a clean shirt. This was baggage enough for him. The missionary was inspired but could never hope to duplicate his lifestyle since she was fond of clean underwear, pajamas, cameras, toiletries, etc.
I have been also reading through Mark and John. I love how the WORD is living and active and how the WORD can breath a fresh into our lives. In Mark 6:6-9, Jesus is amazed at his disciples lack of faith yet he still calls them to himself, sends them out 2 by 2, and gives them authority over evil spirits. Jesus gives them instruction on what to take, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money.” I have read this many of times but I had not been preparing to take a journey which requires such detailed packing before. Why take only a staff? What does this mean? Since I have never lived in a community with shepherds, I had to do some research. A shepherd uses his staff for 3 things: drawing sheep together into one flock, reaching out and grabbing a lamb for inspection, and guiding the sheep along (sheep tend to wander). All of these are for an intimate relationship between the shepherd and lamb. But why did Jesus tell His disciples to take a staff when they were not shepherds, most of them were fishermen? The staff also represents God’s Spirit. His Spirit is guidance, something to lean on, trust, support: a staff. This makes more sense to me now of why to take a ‘staff’.
I have always loved reading John 15 because I am a gardener. Recently, it has taken a deeper meaning. John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” God has been impressing on my heart that I have to abide in Him and He will do the work. A lot of times we want to do good things ‘for’ God. Yet, God just asks us to abide in Him and He will produce the fruit through us. I have a greater sense of my need for God now as we take this step into the unknown.
The Uganda evangelist seems to have it correct. God will have to work on me a lot because our trunks are full and we are trying to squeeze in every ounce of ‘stuff’. Abiding in His Spirit, His WORD is the only real way. I may not be physically taking a staff with us but I am taking His Spirit in my heart.