2021 Travel Advisory from Jesus

Years ago, Pastor Chuck Swindoll shared a newspaper story about a woman who had a rather traumatic experience. She was using a vacuum cleaner hose to clean some tight spots in her kitchen. It worked so well she thought she’d stick the hose in the bottom of her bird cage. It worked great—that is until her phone rang! The brief distraction caused her to flinch, she heard a thump and a screech and suddenly “Chirpy” (her beloved pet canary) had vanished.

The woman instantly shut off the vacuum, called his name and stuck her fingers down the hose. When that didn’t work, she opened the tank of her vacuum, sifted through the debris and found her dirty birdy alive but looking a little shook up. When the reporter asked the woman how Chirpy was feeling now, she replied “He’s fine physically, but come to think of it, he doesn’t sing much anymore.”

After 2020, most of us can relate to Chirpy. We’re fine physically, but as we think about last year and look ahead to the new year, we don’t feel much like singing!

In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus prepares to send His guys on a new adventure. They’ve had some scary experiences on their previous journeys with Jesus, so the thought of going into yet another unknown zone (this time without Jesus!) makes their knees knock. Jesus understands their timidity and offers four practical principles that will enable His followers to overcome fear and experience more joy on their journey.

As you enter the GATE to 2021, remember to:

Go where Jesus tells you to go.

When you travel, you can go to one of four places: (1) You can go where you want to go; (2) You can go where someone else wants you to go; (3) You can go wherever the wind or waves take you (aka “drifting”); or (4) you can go where God wants you to go. When you go where God wants you to go (and do what God wants you to do), He promises His presence and protection no matter how rocky the road.

Our story begins in Mark 6:7a with these words “Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out.” The disciples of Jesus “went where sent.” By contrast, Jonah didn’t do that, and the results weren’t pretty! In 2021, I am confident that Jesus will prompt all of us to go to and through certain hard and unpleasant places. When Jesus sends you outside of your comfort zone, will He say of you “Well done! You went where I sent you!”?

Avoid the Lone Ranger mentality.

Perhaps the saddest parts of the pandemic have been the stories of those who’ve had to live, and in some cases die, alone. While it’s hard to go to scary places, it’s even harder and scarier to go there without a friend by our side. God gets that, which is why He rarely calls us to fly solo into precarious places. As Jesus sent His guys out for the first time, “He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits” (Mark 6:7b).

Jesus knew that successful journeys into the unknown zone would require both big-time power and big-time partnerships (Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). As we begin our 2021 tour of duty, let’s steer clear of the Lone Ranger mindset and do more of our mission with caring companions.

Throw off unnecessary baggage.

For years, every time I’d travel, I’d angst over this question: “Did I pack every possible thing I might need?” The thought of me not having something I might need with me once I got to my destination drove me crazy! As I’ve gotten older, I have discovered that more often my biggest problem isn’t taking too little baggage, but taking too much. God’s Word tells us that too much baggage will prohibit our progress and weaken our faith. As His disciples got ready to head into uncharted waters, Jesus told them “….Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt” (Mark 6:8-9). Translation? “Don’t take so much with you that you need not trust Me to provide for you on your journey!”

1) Excessive material possessions. While material possessions can be used for God’s glory, too many material possessions and/or a preoccupation with them will hold you back. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

2) Our worries and fears.Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

3) Our current and past sins, hurts and failures. “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Exercise wisdom in your investments.

Who comes to mind when you think of great investors? Warren Buffet? Peter Lynch? Jack Bogle? While all of these guys may be Wall Street Wonders, they are not “the greatest investor of all time.” That title would have to go to Jesus. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly gave wise advice on how to invest our money and our minutes so as to have “treasure in heaven” that would never go away!

Jesus called His disciples to invest their resources in His kingdom, and one big way to do that is to value people over possessions. But Jesus went one step further. He said receptive people are better investments than resistant people.

Look at Mark 6:10-11. “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” As you go into new places, all people matter to and are loved by God, but the ones to invest the most resources in are the ones who are most receptive to the grace that Jesus has to offer.

So, as we begin this journey together to this uncertain place called 2021, God’s Word has some great travel advice as to how to thrive—not just survive—regardless of what surprises may await.