Getting ready to go
Acts 21:15 “After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.”
Marmite? Yes some shout! Coffee and tea bags?! YES! HP Sauce?! YES definitely!
These are some of the questions that new missionaries ask when they pack their suitcases! It can be quite stressful getting ready to go.
So we come to the end of Paul’s third and final missionary journey. He makes one more journey after Jerusalem, to Rome, but as a prisoner.
He has resisted calls not to go to Jerusalem. He has held his ground even when people said, “Thus says the Lord, don’t go!” Now his team agree to follow him.
Any one can lead people to the finishing line with crowds cheering the victory. It takes a gifted leader to lead people to that what they fear.
Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c. 1787 – c. 22 September 1828), also known as Shaka Zulu, was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations, and condemned for the brutality of his reign. Zulu impis (regiments of the Zulu Army) were supposed to be so brave and so dedicated to obeying orders that Shaka Zulu once ordered an impi to march off a cliff, to prove that they had no fear. And they did.
Way back in 331 B.C. Alexander the Great marched towards India with his armies. Alexander had already conquered much of the known world, and he would stop at nothing to have it all. Alexander was a strong leader, and every soldier was willing to follow him, no matter what the cost. He had a strong campaign to take over the world, yet encountered some difficulty upon the arrival at a certain walled city. As Alexander approached the great city, he peered up towards the King who stood firm upon the stone wall and shouted: “My name is Alexander the Great, and I demand you surrender immediately!” Laughing, the King asked, “Why should we surrender to you?” He then proceeded to explain how they outnumbered Alexander’s troops, and they were more than prepared to defend the city. In response, Alexander turned to his 100 choice troops and commanded them to line up in perfect order facing the cliff. Each did so obediently in respect for their leader. Alexander then ordered them to start moving. One by one they began marching toward the edge of the cliff. The first soldier stepped off the cliff and pummeled to his death, as did the second, third, fourth , all the way until the eleventh man. When Alexander finally yelled, “HALT!”, he gazed back at the King who was completely astonished by the obedience of the men-and the utter respect they had for Alexander. He surrendered immediately, and Alexander went on to conquer the civilized world.
Two historical war leaders with strange stories of total command of their armies. It doesn’t say how reluctant these soldiers were but they were obedient that’s for sure.
Our leader, Jesus, told us to take up our cross and follow him.
Pauls team knew trouble was ahead and they got their baggage ready and made preparations to leave.
Jesus told us that on this earth we will have trouble. Without being a doom-sayer, tomorrow contains trouble. What baggage are you preparing today that will take you into your tomorrow? What do you need to leave behind? What do you definitely need to take with you? Are there relationships that need to be ended? You see if tomorrow is a holiday then it doesn’t matter what you take, in fact you will take as much as you possibly can fit into the suitcase. But if it contains trouble then it focuses your mind to what is actually essential. What do I need that will help me to be who I can be in that situation? The truth is we do not know what tomorrow holds but we do know it won’t be easy.
I was talking to a leader this week who told me that everything in the past was preparation for the difficulty they were going through today. They didn’t mean everything, they meant that they had learnt lessons in the past and they chose to take these with them in to their tomorrow.
But tomorrow is not just about trouble. There are people in our tomorrow waiting for us. They may not know we are coming. We might not know who these people are yet, but God knows.
One of the things we know Pauls team would have got ready was the money and gifts they had accumulated to give to the poor in Jerusalem ( see Acts 24:17). We have been given yesterday and today enough blessings for tomorrow.
Our baggage contains many blessings we have been given. Tomorrow is a day of blessing for others and we need to get ready to be the blesser. We need to prepare to bless. Are you saving to give? Are you resisting wasting in order to be a blessing?
So today, what will you pack to get ready to go?