Leave the Sandals

Leave the Sandals

My phone buzzed with an unfamiliar number.

“Topo Handyman Services, this is Kyle.”

“Do you install microwaves?” 

“Sure, I can help you with that. Do you mind if I come take a look?”

“That would be great, thanks.”

We moved to Illinois just two weeks ago. We didn't plan to move to Illinois, it was a surprise pit stop on our journey to Phoenix, Arizona. We were joining a team of pioneers, committed to experimenting with a new expression of the Church. We left everything familiar to us behind; family, work, community, the home we had made our own. Every step we took felt incredibly vulnerable and risky.

Will we have what we need? Will we know what to do?

I was terrified at the lack of a clear plan for provision. I began to build a handyman business upon landing in Illinois. I crafted a detailed plan and set “pay periods” with goals for each. Jennie reached out to me about her microwave in the middle of my first pay period. I’ve mounted a lot of microwaves, this would be an easy job. You simply measure and drill, then bolt it into the cabinet above. 

Three large huskies sounded the alarm as Jennie answered the door. She turned and yelled, “Get back! Quiet! It’s just the handyman!” They eyed me suspiciously as Jennie greeted me with a worn smile, "Come on in." The house was dark, with sheets covering the windows. My heart sank as we stepped into the kitchen.

A Scary Sight for an Amateur Handyman!

Not only was there no microwave above the stove, but there was no cabinet with which to secure it. The drywall behind where the cabinet should have been was also missing. The exposed cavity revealed a nasty, hairy mess of wiring, complete with loose outlets and exposed wires. I followed the open cavity up to the ceiling, where I discovered several large holes throughout the kitchen. My jaw dropped as I took in the war zone. “...Did someone try to remodel your kitchen?”

“Yeah…” Jennie sighed as she looked down. “My husband started a remodeling project in the kitchen, then he died suddenly of a heart attack last month.”

“OH... I’m so sorry Jennie.”

“It’s okay,” she said loudly. I could tell her guard was up, so I left it alone. I worked for the next few days, navigating the layers of issues toward the goal of an installed microwave and patched holes. On Friday I calculated the earnings of my first pay period while I sanded the patched ceiling.  I thought, I think I’m gonna be ok. With this job, I exceeded my goal!

Then I heard the Lord whisper,

"I want you to give this as a gift to Jennie."

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I knew the thought didn’t originate from me, because it felt like such a bad idea. Not only had I sunk 25-30 hours into this project, but I had purchased materials with precious money that I planned to bill. I told the Lord why that couldn’t have been him that I was hearing, it must have been my misguided compassion. 

I thought to myself, this is too costly to get wrong

In response, another thought came to me, Even if you’re wrong, doesn’t God have a heart for the widows and orphans? Even if this is your imagination, it’s in line with what God cares about.

My face reddened and my breathing shallowed as the internal conflict swelled. I sanded furiously while I fought what felt like unreasonable ideas invading my mind. I refuted, Don’t you already have us far enough out on a limb, God? Why would you ask this of me now?

I sensed the Lord’s tender response. Aren’t you afraid about provision? I’m going to address your fear by inviting you deeper into trust. Remember, provision isn’t your responsibility, it’s mine. Your job is to be faithful and obedient, and in order to do that, you’re going to have to trust me.

Now I knew I was in trouble. But I had one more card to play, the spouse veto. If I was off my rocker Melissa would let me know. She can often sense if something is the Lord or if there’s some twisted thought. I stepped outside as I called Melissa and shared with her my internal dialogue, sincerely unsure if I was hearing the Lord. 

She was quiet for a moment.“That sounds like the Lord to me.” She sounded so relaxed, it shocked me. “I trust you Kyle, if you feel like it’s the Lord, you should do it.” Not what I was expecting to hear...

I knew what I needed to do. I headed back into the kitchen.

I had already sent the invoice to Jennie, so when I went back inside she handed me the check. I stood there, next to my ladder with check in hand, working up the courage to hand it back while Jennie pointed out mistakes in my drywall repair. The check felt so heavy. I told her I would fix the spots, then I handed her the check.

“God told me that He wanted to cover the bill for your kitchen.” Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. “God is finishing what your husband started. He’s doing this to show you that you are not alone. God is filling the void in your home and your family, and He’s going to take care of you.”

 Up to this moment Jennie had held back her emotions when she mentioned her situation, now the dam was opened. She hugged me, resting her head on my shoulder. I could feel the heat of her tears as they fell on my shoulder. She was no longer interacting with me, she was having a moment with the Father. I wrapped my arms around her. I wanted her to experience every drop of the Father’s heart for her.

Over the next several months I did lots of work with Jennie. We became friends! Though I did charge her...

In Luke 10 Jesus entrusts His ministry to the seventy-two, to go town to town and proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. They were empowered to demonstrate the nearness and goodness of God, yet they were to do it from a place of vulnerability. He tells them to leave behind their resources -money, belongings, even sandals. When He tells them to “greet no one on the road,” He’s telling them to even disregard the resource of their relational connections. 

Being sent out as ambassadors means that we are the expression of God’s heart to the world in which we are sent. He sends us out so that others can experience His heart, and in so doing they experience the Kingdom of God. When they receive it they are set free, they are healed. The good news is realized through us. 

Being sent as ambassadors of God also means being vulnerable and completely dependent. There is something about our weakness that reveals the power of God. We don’t accomplish the impossible in our own strength- that reality has to be established in us.

The Heaven-invading power we need for the mission only comes from a posture of trust.

If you’re feeling vulnerable, if you’re aware of lack, you’re in a good place. You have been sent by God. You have a mission. God is going to give you everything you need to fulfill your assignment, but you’re going to have to learn to trust Him more than you do right now. Nothing matters more to your success than your ability to learn to trust God. 

What if you leaned into your vulnerability instead of avoiding it? Allow your discomfort to drive you to the Lord. Acknowledge what you’re feeling to Him, and ask Him to meet you there. Ask Him to be what you need Him to be. Trust can only be cultivated when we allow others into our vulnerability. He’s waiting for your invitation.

I’m in Arizona now, and I keep waiting for the moment where my world once again feels settled and secure. Still hasn’t happened. The heat is oppressive, and my cars don’t like it. I was so terrified this week when I received another big bill from the mechanic. The emergency fund is now depleted. It’s in moments like these I start to wonder if we made a mistake. But the relief came when I lost my sandals.

The moment I realized they were gone, I heard the Lord say, “Don’t take your sandals.” He was reminding me of Luke 10. He was reminding me that He is positioning me in a place of trust because it’s what I need to fulfill the mission. He was reminding me that the provision is His job, not mine. My job is to trust Him, and to be faithful with what’s in front of me.

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