They answered Joshua:
“Everything you commanded us, we’ll do.
Wherever you send us, we’ll go.
We obeyed Moses to the letter; we’ll also obey you—
we just pray that God, your God, will be with you as he was with Moses.
Anyone who questions what you say and refuses to obey whatever you command him will be put to death.
Joshua 1.16-18 | MSG
Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptized is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned.
These are some of the signs that will accompany believers:
They will throw out demons in my name,
they will speak in new tongues,
they will take snakes in their hands,
they will drink poison and not be hurt,
they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.”
Then the Master Jesus, after briefing them, was taken up to heaven, and he sat down beside God in the place of honor. And the disciples went everywhere preaching, the Master working right with them, validating the Message with indisputable evidence. Mark 16.16-20 | MSG
It’s one of my all time favorite scenes from what many consider a so-so film – Unbreakable. David Dunn realizes he is, after all, not just an ordinary man. Calling his “mentor” Elijah, he asks what he should do. Elijah’s instruction:
“Go to a place where people are… you won’t have to wait very long.”
Go where people are. See what happens.
It’s a hard word, this word “Go.” Perhaps that’s why the apostles – who were supposed to be experts in “going” as the ultimate “go-ers” (after all, “apostle” essentially means “one who goes”!) – perhaps that’s why they were so reluctant to go anywhere. It was over a decade since Jesus told them to “go where the people are,” and they were still huddled in Jerusalem. Saul began his purge, sending local believers scattering over the horizon, impacting people as they went. But the 12 original “Go-ers” stayed behind in Jerusalem. They weren’t ready to go anywhere. At least not until a new Herod showed up on the scene and cut off the head of one of them. Then the go-ers got going.
That’s the time gap to insert, at least mentally, in Mark’s summary of the aftermath of Jesus’ ascension. Yes they went! But it took some doing for God to pry them out of Jerusalem at last.
Maybe this is one of those “We can do this the easy way or the hard way” moments. We can heap up preparations and stockpile promises, but when all is said and done when the starting gun fires it’s time to leap out of the blocks and go.
Or he may just have to pry us out.
The starting gun just fired.
It’s time to get going.
Go where the people are…you won’t have to wait very long.
What does it look like for you to “go where the people are”? Just where is it you need to get going, and what do you think he calling on you to do when you get there?
Living God, give me the grace today to go. Give me eyes to see You where I go, to see the people as I go, and the courage to be and do as you lead me there on that spot, at that moment. And as I go, come. Through Christ.
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.