There are passages of the bible I have read with earnest intent in an earlier part of my journey. Passages I read now with great amusement (and may read again with a different scent in the future). This is one such passage:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Luke 10:1-9
I was in the audience listening raptly and taking instruction. Taking notes so I could replicate my instructions. Ready and willing to be sent out. Champing at the bit. Seeking the unbelievers. All fired-up to “Save Save Save”!
Now I chuckle. Now I feel on the edges of the audience. The old-timer watching the newbies.
And yet I know something now I never knew then.
This journey is not work – but it is a journey. Sitting still is not journeying – it is atrophying. The harvest is not work – it is relationship. My eyes to see have changed, my ears to hear have changed, my heart to love has changed. There is a harvest – but of love and relationship – not work.
And as for “lambs and wolves”? I now see “youthful exuberance” rather than “noble sacrifice”. Innocence and enthusiasm rather than innocence and experience. For I carried that checklist and I have seen casualties. I have seen lambs devoured. I have been “nibbled” along the way. I saw wolves at every corner waiting to devour me. And I still see those who follow the checklist, who tick the boxes. But the me “then” and the me “now” … ?
I have found that I am not one of the seventy.
I tarry on the road. I speak to those along the way. I carry a few bits and pieces. I tend not to announce myself in the recommended fashion. I tend not to stay in anyone’s house. I don’t cure the sick. I don’t tell them very much at all. I am not one of the seventy.
I am one of the millions.
My “telling” is sharing. My “journey” is connection. My “not taking anything” is having no “baggage”. The stuff I have remains “temporary”. For I have something better – something deep and personal and eternal.
That is what I journey with – that is who I journey with. So this I know now.
Unless I had tried-on the “seventy” … tried-on the checklist … tried walking the walk of the seventy … I would never have found I was one of the millions … because I would never have journeyed at all – and I would not have allowed (what is now the important stuff) to ever become a part of my life.
So I chuckle (with affection), I read (with love), I see those who now listen earnestly (with kindness). Because I was once a novice “seventy”.
And that is why these words make more and more sense in my journey:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6