In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord‘s Passover. Exodus 12:11
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22
Spontaneity is not really a thing for me. I just don’t do well with it. But if you tell me that change is coming and that I need to “ready” myself to be able to respond quickly, I do pretty well with that. I always tend to think of it in terms of trimming the sails on a ship, being prepared for when the wind starts to blow. Because, you never know when it will start and you have no idea how long it will last when it blows, so you definitely want to be ready.
Walking with God is a lot like that. There is an urgency to the gospel message. He expects us to be ready to move so that, when we receive a clear word from Him about our next step, there is no delay whatsoever. In the kingdom of God, delayed obedience and disobedience are the same thing. God’ story is filled with references to this very notion.
I sometimes wonder if there were any Hebrew families who got the passover blood on the doorposts right (and were spared from the plague of the death of the firstborn) but who did not eat the passover meal all packed and ready to move out, like they were instructed. I wonder how many Hebrew slaves did not obtain their freedom because they delayed in making preparations to …
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:18-20
It seems to me that the scene has by now played out for me at least a hundred times. I am counseling with a pastor who has been put through the wringer by his congregation and has been maligned and injured and his family has been as well. He has fallen victim to the church at its very worst and he now has the scars to show for it. He expresses to me his utter dismay and surprise and talks about how seminary simply did not prepare him for this. His wife expresses shock that God’s own people could behave so badly and that this was NOT what she signed on for when she agreed to marry a pastor. I listen, and I weep with them, and I grieve for them…and then I think to myself, “Welcome to the ministry. This is it. Welcome.”
Jesus was always pretty clear about the downside to following Him…the cost would be great, the sacrifice extraordinary. He never sugar-coated that. He was completely unapologetic about it throughout his entire ministry. So, I suppose my thinking has always been, “If that is true for every follower of Jesus, how much more so for those called out to shepherd other followers of Jesus?” Vocational ministry, in short, is simply not about comfort. It is about ministering to a bunch of poorly-behaved, stinky sheep who bite and who hurt you and who get …