Ready or Obedient
by John Ortberg
“Feeling ready” is highly overrated. God is looking for obedience. When God brought the people of Israel into the Promised Land, he had them step into the Jordan first, then he parted the river. If they had waited for proof, they’d be standing on the banks still. Faith grows when God says to somebody, “Go,” and that person says yes.
Maybe the greatest open door in the Bible comes at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus sends his disciples out to change the world, but there are two striking problems. One is that there are only eleven disciples. All through the gospel the number twelve reminds readers that the disciples have been chosen to be a picture of the redeemed, restarted twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve is the number of wholeness, completeness, readiness. Now they don’t have enough players.
But it’s not just that they have the wrong number. “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). They had a quantity problem; now they have a quality problem. They don’t have enough disciples, and the ones they do have don’t believe enough.
New Testament scholar Dale Bruner writes, “The number ‘eleven’ limps; it is not perfect like twelve. . . . The church that Jesus sends into the world is ‘elevenish,’ imperfect, fallible.”3
This is the group Jesus chooses to change the world. He doesn’t say, “First, let’s get enough numbers” or “First, let’s get enough faith.” He just says, “You go. We’ll work on the faith thing and the numbers thing while you’re doing the obedience thing. I’m sending you out. Ready or not . . .”
In the Bible, when God calls someone to do something, no one responds by saying, “I’m ready.” Too inarticulate, too weak, too old, too young, too sinful, too dangerous, too rich, too poor, too much baggage—no one ever says, “Okay, Lord—I feel ready.” And God says to us what he has always said, what Jesus said to his disciples: “Ready or not . . .”
The truth is you don’t know what you can do until you actually do it. “Ready” comes faster if you’re already moving. If you wait to move until you’re fully ready, you’ll wait until you die. Jesus doesn’t say, “Go; you’re ready.” He says, “Go; I’ll go with you.”
Jesus takes his friends up a mountain. Not enough of them. Not enough faith. Doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t whether they’re ready. What matters is that he’s ready. And you and I never know when he’s ready. He’s in charge of that.
Taken from All the Places to Go by John Ortberg Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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