Then Joshua gave orders to the people’s leaders:
“Go through the camp and give this order to the people: ‘Pack your bags. In three days you will cross this Jordan River to enter and take the land God, your God, is giving you to possess.’”
Joshua 1.10-11 | MSG
Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:
“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this.
You are the equipment.
No special appeals for funds.
Keep it simple.
And no luxury inns.
Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw.
Don’t make a scene.
Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”
Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits. Mark 6.7-13 | MSG
Union general George McClellan is credited by most historians with organizing what became known as the Army of the Potomac – the army that ultimately carried the war for the Union in the American Civil War. A massive, monumental achievement.
But much to President Lincoln’s deepening chagrin, he seemed reluctant to do anything with it. At one point he sent a note to McClellan asking if he could borrow his army if McClellan wasn’t doing anything with it – or, as pictured here, one month after the momentous battle of Antietam, after being informed that McClellan had still not begun pursuing Lee’s beaten army because of “tongued and fatigued horses” he sent this wonderfully pointed note:
“I have just read your dispacth about some tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything? A. Lincoln.”
There is a time to gather stones, and there is a time to cast them away.
Prepare, equip, train, ready, organize, systematize, theorize, plan, strategize.
But finally comes the time when we must launch.
McClellan was a great administrator about whom Lincoln observed, “He helps others to fight, but he does not himself fight.” It was Ulysses S. Grant that ultimately got the job done. When others petitioned for Grant’s dismissal over rumors of his drinking, Lincoln simply responded,
“I can’t spare this man. He fights.”
As we face off with the future, as Joshua did with his generation, or as Jesus did with the twelve disciples, perhaps we can hear the nudge to lean more into Grant than McClellan.
You don’t need a lot of extra equipment.
You are the equipment.
You are ready.
And it’s time to launch.
Are you a careful planner or a more spontaneous improviser? What would you say is the key to preparing enough to move ahead without becoming paralyzed when it’s time to launch?
Living God, lead me into healthier, functioning rhythms of gathering stones and casting them away. Give me the wisdom to plan well, and the courage to launch when it’s time. By your grace.