One day I was driving to work. I had taken my normal route – towards the end of the journey there is a place you can take a right turn and avoid traffic lights, which is usually a good idea in the morning. However, this one morning, I had forgotten to do that. I was annoyed because there was a long queue at the lights which meant I would probably be late for work. I was cutting it fine as it was!
As I sat in this queue of traffic though, something caught my eye – a paperboy’s fluorescent bag. It threw my mind back to my cousin Lewis, and when he used to be a paperboy. It was his Saturday job when he was young. Now, Lewis is a postman.
I was sitting in my car thinking about these two roles and how they are linked, sure that there must be some kind of message in it, something to learn from my little detour in the morning. It took me weeks to figure it out, but I think I have got it.
A paperboy serves an important purpose – delivering the news for everyone to hear about; what’s going on in the local area, etc. There is not a lot of training required. It’s usually a part time role where the worker is either studying or doing some other kind of development with the rest of their time.
A postman however, has to have training before they can begin their job. It’s a more permanent position – often full time. What they are delivering is unique to each person, and it is important that they deliver what they have for each individual, otherwise they will never hear what was intended for them.
Crucially – if the paperboy doesn’t deliver his papers for a week, people will be annoyed, but they will source the news from other mediums. With a postman however, if he doesn’t deliver the post, the person will never hear that message.
So – where are you? Do you know what your purpose is? Are you a postman or a paperboy? Do you have a specific message to deliver? I am speaking metaphorically here. Not everyone will be delivering an actual message, but the point is, do you want to continuously sit on the sidelines, regurgitating the same thing to many people, or do you want to train and learn how to make a difference, delivering the message you were intended to? A message unique for you.
In Matthew 9:35 – 10:42 Jesus commissions His disciples.
Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported Kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When He looked out over the crowds, His heart broke. So confused they were, like sheep with no shepherd.
Jesus can see that there are so many broken and hurting people, and His heart goes out to them. All this time He has been travelling with His disciples, taking them into the towns and cities with Him as He has preached the Good News, healed the sick, and restored brokenness. Jesus prays, asking His Father who can go to these people. He then calls and commissions His disciples, to continue in His strength, in His name, the work He began.
He gave them power to kick out evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives.
“Don’t begin by travelling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighbourhood. Tell them that the Kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment.
This is large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”
God needs us to live our lives with action.
We spend a lot of time figuring out vision, passion and purpose and action is the very last, almost least important thing on our list. It should be one of the most important things. Along with heart. If we are doing something for God, with the right intentions, then chances are, it’s the right thing to do. You don’t need to spend a week praying about it, or spend a month to test it out. If you start down the wrong path, God will very quickly make that clear and give you every opportunity possible to turn around or take a different route out of it.
God requires action. All you have to do is read James 1 & 2 for that to be made very clear. In summary – it tells us that faith without action is almost pointless. Most of Jesus’ teaching was about doing. And that’s what we are called to do as followers of Him.
STOP THE PRESS!
Continuing on the theme of newspapers, someone gave this as a vision at a weekend retreat I was on recently and it really resonated with me.
When a newspaper is being printed, and a new headline comes in, the printing press is stopped. (I assume this is still how it works – this is the romantic image of “the print” that I have in my head anyway…) When the new front page is then printed, they don’t reprint over what is already there. They don’t try and rework the new headline to fit around what is already there. They start again.
That’s the same with us – we can’t keep overwriting on the old version of how things are done, or what is assumed of us. God wants us to do something brand new, just like He does over and over again.
This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves…
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new.”
I read a definition of insanity once that said something like, it’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
We quite often get caught up in that I think. We assume, because our parents and grandparents were such amazing change-makers that we now have done all that we can as the human race. We think about the successes that have gone before us, the abolition of the slave trade, and apartheid, and think, wow, the world has changed. We forget that actually, the slave trade is happening still, it’s just more hidden, in fact, I’m pretty sure that I read that now, there are more slaves on this earth than there ever have been in history all put together. It just doesn’t look as we expect it to.
I have recently read a few stories that have stuck in my mind and made me think, I can’t just sit by and do nothing. The first is about the sex trade – I won’t share it again as I wrote about it in my last blog. The second story was something I saw on Instagram. A photo of a child, a Syrian refugee. The story beneath explained how her family had given her away for marriage to protect her from being sexually abused in the refugee camp. What her family didn’t know, was that the man that married their child went on to be her abuser. These families aren’t what they are made out to be in the press. They are educated, professional people, who have been forced to flee from their homes to live in the most horrendous conditions. They want to then do everything they can to protect their families, then they are betrayed by someone they think they can trust, and their child, the only thing precious to them in the world, is abused, hurt and broken.
It broke my heart when I read that.
Last week, I read another story – a couple in America were at a church event where there was a missionary who had been in Uganda there sharing some of his story. He had been to an orphanage where there was a room full of cots. He estimated there would have been over 100 and each one had a baby in it. The staggering thing was, that the room was silent. He turned to his host and asked why the nursery was silent. Her response was: “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”
My heart shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.
I couldn’t reconcile that. There is so much injustice happening in this world at the moment, and even babies are right at the heart of it, learning that there is no point in crying because it makes no difference. It’s not like self-soothing, it’s actually nobody is coming. Not now, not ever.
I was upset, and angry, and praying through this, the comfort that God gave me was this – “My heart is breaking too.”
Realising that, I figured that it’s not good enough to just learn about these things happening, it’s about rising up to the challenge. Figuring out what I can do. Back to Matthew 10 – maybe that is a really small thing at this stage – maybe it’s praying for these people and situations. Maybe it’s supporting a charity. Maybe it’s telling more people about it, maybe it’s practically going and making a difference.
So – God is calling us to continue the good works, the changes that our ancestors have made before us. Not to settle down, to stand up, to keep fighting to make an impact.
He needs us to be there for the broken and the hurt.
He has commissioned us, and that’s something we have to take seriously. It’s time to put our faith into action, and make a difference in the world – be a game changer!