In Luke 10, Jesus speaks of how He is sending His disciples, the few laborers for the abundant harvest, out like lambs in the midst of wolves. When I heard this at Mass several days ago, an image leapt into my mind which has been with me ever since. I imagined a little lamb, still with softly spun small coils of wool, walking down a path surrounded by wolves, growling menacingly at the tender lamb. Yet the lamb moved forward, head held high, and seemed unfazed by the danger that lurked around it.

I considered how vulnerable this lamb was, unable to defend itself from the predators and with little strength to offer on its own behalf. And I thought that perhaps that was exactly the point. Maybe this image of the lamb in the midst of wolves is exactly what Jesus desires for us. This little lamb is aware of its weakness and it is likely this knowledge of its weakness which is its greatest strength. If it fixated on the vicious wolves that surround it, the sheep could never move forward. It is rather gentle by nature, with no claws or sharp teeth to maim an attacker. The lamb surrounded by wolves finds its strength in knowing that the Shepherd will provide.

The moments or situations in life where I have known God placed me in a particular situation, and yet I felt wholly unqualified for the task at hand, are the situations where I have needed to rely entirely on the Lord. In this reliance, there is a strength that is given. I don’t know that I was a better teacher ten years ago, but I was far more likely to storm Heaven prior to a difficult class or to beg for guidance in the midst of students’ questions. It isn’t that I don’t ask for God to help me now, but I’m more confident in my own abilities than I used to be. Yet the littleness, the weakness I felt as a new teacher was also a source of strength. I’ve experienced the same in different ministries or experiences which forced me to offer the Lord unrestricted access, imploring Him to provide in the places where I saw an abundant lack.

Even with three years with the Lord, the disciples still had many questions and weaknesses when it came to following Jesus. This might have been exactly as the Lord desired. Rather than overconfident, ultra-prepared followers, He wanted people who continually turned to Him, conscious of their own need for Him and their own sinfulness. He wanted lambs in the midst of wolves, faithful followers who look at the sinfulness of humanity and recognize that it is God’s grace that prevents them from falling as well as God’s grace that has lifted them from the pit. Without defenses, without fitting strength, without what would be necessary to be independently successful, the Lord sent them out into the abundant harvest, knowing their weakness and vulnerability would be a strength.

I think the Lord continues to use the same philosophy. He beckons us to follow Him and then sends us out. Not with perfect answers, flawless motives, or zero vices, but with a recognition of how little we are and yet a gratitude that Jesus chooses to use the little alongside the great. If we fixate on the obstacles, the forces rooting for our failure, or the dangers that surround us, we will be frightened into never moving forward, certain that any step will be death. Which, I suppose, may not be entirely false. However, it is the little death of recognizing our own weakness that allows us to trust in the strength of the One we follow, believing firmly that we are completely incapable of doing anything great apart from Him.

The harvest is abundant and the laborers are few. Let us little ones not worry about the magnitude of the mission, but rather, like the lamb, follow the Lord with simplicity, knowing that while wolves surround us, we are forever at rest in His providence.

Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

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