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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are You Too Heavy?

No, this is not a weight loss post -- but isn't that a catchy title? I've got a little story to share and I'll get into the "heavy" stuff in a sec...

So here's a fun fact -- did y'all know that Dan used to live in Botswana (yes, the one in Africa) and worked as a pilot for Flying Mission? Us crazy Owens are full of surprises.

Recently, Dan shared a story with our small group about his time in Africa and I thought this one was just too good not to share here...

So, while he was in Botswana, he and some fellow pilots decided to travel up to Zambia to visit some American missionaries over Christmas break. The area they flew into was REMOTE. As in, Dan and his team had to land their plane on a strip of grass. As in, the place doesn't even show up on Google Maps kind of remote.

As the guys made their way out of their plane and into the little village and what should they happen upon, but a beat up old Ford truck. It probably looked something like this in it's prime...

If you've ever been to Africa you'll know why this is weird. There are no Ford trucks anywhere in Africa. Toyota trucks, yes. Nissan trucks, perhaps. Big old gas guzzlin' Ford trucks, no. But even if you've not been to Africa you'll have to admit it's a bit strange to stumble upon an old American-made truck in the middle of the African jungle.

Dan asked the missionaries about the mysterious automobile and turns out that it was brought to this remote location by former American missionaries to Zambia. These missionaries went to great lengths and much expense to ship their beloved Ford truck in a very large crate all the way to Cape Town, South Africa. And THEN these missionaries went to great lengths and much expense to drive their beloved Ford truck 2,000 miles to the remote little village in Zambia where they'd been called to serve.

Now this all could have made for a nice little story of perseverance and American ingenuity. But alas, there is a sad ending to this tale.

When Dan and his friends happened upon this truck, years after it had arrived in the Zambian village, it was completely useless and decrepit. The tires were literally rotting off the wheels. Trees were growing through the windows. It was the very definition of "hunk of junk." Turns out that the missionaries who had gone to so much trouble to bring their car with them to Zambia, never really got to use the thing. Because, in the entire country of Zambia, there are no Pep Boys or Napa Auto Parts or any place that carries parts for and/or has the ability to service a Ford truck. So after all that trouble, the beloved truck just rotted away.

I love this story. I think there is SUCH a great lesson here.

There is a reason why Jesus commanded his disciples, and us, with these words:

"Take nothing for your journey," he instructed them. "Don't take a walking stick, a traveler's bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes." Luke 9:3, NLT

Notice that Jesus doesn't say "don't plan your journey." He doesn't say "don't think things through carefully." Indeed -- in Matthew 10:16 He calls us to be as shrewd as snakes. But our Lord clearly, explicity states that when we're going out to do His work, we should not bother to bring along a bunch of stuff. In fact, He says we should not bring ANY stuff.

You could offer lots of reasons why Jesus gave this particular commandment to his disciples. Most commonly, I've heard it taught that Jesus wanted His disciples to take nothing on their journies because He wanted them to depend on Him. To have faith in His full provision. And there is definitely truth to this.

But from the bottom of my heart, I think this is the main reason Jesus gave the command: stuff is a BURDEN. Stuff is a snare in ministry. Stuff is a distraction. Our stuff requires our time and attention -- we have to care for it, store it, sort it, clean it and so forth. Our stuff keeps us from taking risks for God -- it prevents us from picking up and leaving and doing something aweseome and crazy for Him. And eventually, when we've grown to love our stuff more than we love our God, we find that our stuff has become our idol.

The Hebrew word for "rich"... as in Abraham in the Old Testament, is "kaved." Translated literally, this word means "heavy." It can also be translated as "burdened" or "extremely weighty." Ouch.

So I ask y'all this... are you too heavy? Do you have too much stuff? And does your stuff keep you from doing great things for Him?

Dan and I often fear that we are too heavy.  We fear that we are too attached to our stuff. We fear that if we were called to pick up and go serve on the other side of the world, our stuff would prevent us from actually doing it. And that is not ok.

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." Matt 6:24, NAS


Chasity said...

Totally agree with your thoughts Shelly. There ourselves right now, examining the "need" for stuff.

Lara said...

Amen! I wrote about this recently, too. For me, I was holding on to clothes. http://thefarmerswifetellsall.blogspot.com/2011/01/things-we-hold-on-to.html

Nancy said...

Yes, I am too heavy and I desperately want to make a drastic change!!

Wild Olive said...

I'm totally too heavy, too...especially after reading Stephen's post: http://www.bridgethelove.com/2011/02/funny-how-money.html. Yikes!

I wonder if taking my bed to Africa would be asking too much...

Brian & Amy said...

This is such a timely post for us as we consider planning/preparation to serve overseas. At times, i do't want to plan it I just want to GO. I know there is a balance between planning what you'll do, how you'll school your children and how you'll pay for life once there, but a HUGE part of me just wants to take the clothes on our backs and board a plane and leave it all behind. I am aching to find that balance. Thanks friend, for your great post!

Anne said...

Our stuff did not stop us from moving to the other side of the world, we sold and gave away almost all of it last year, before we moved to Italy as missionaries. And yet, we still catch ourselves falling into that "heavy" mentality so often. It is such a struggle to break free from the materialistic cycle of thinking into real Kingdom living. Thanks for sharing the story of the truck... I think that image is gonna stay with me for a while!