Thrive: Shake It Off, Shake It Off – Kristy Bay

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“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’”
—Matthew 10:5-23

After reading the first verses of Matthew 10, I had a really hard time moving past Jesus’ rather harsh calling of the disciples to ignore the Gentiles and instead to seek only after the “lost sheep of Israel.” I don’t like to think about Jesus excluding people. These words became a barrier for me. What to do with this first part of chapter 10? The words are harsh and condemning. They make me uncomfortable. But I took a deep breath and tried again to search for meaning in the layers of this ancient text.

The lyrics to the Florence and the Machine song “Shake it Out” began running through my head on endless repeat. “Shake it out, shake it out . . . and it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back . . . it’s always darkest before the dawn.” If you know this song, you may be quietly humming it . . . or maybe not. But then I began to hear other parts of Jesus’ words to his disciples—words like, “If anyone will not welcome you . . . shake off the dust from your feet as you leave.” It finally hit me. Jesus is warning the disciples that the way of following him is hard, and will require thick skin. They will have to shake off the feelings of hurt, anger, even fear, and move on to the next place. This was what they could expect from the “church people”—the people who were already “insiders.”

No matter what church I visit or which minister colleague I talk with or even whether I am just looking in the mirror, I encounter people with serious church baggage—people covered in the dust of places they can’t shake off. Perhaps Jesus’ words make me uncomfortable because I am wrapped in the dust of such places: I have been wounded by the church and by “church people;” I have been let down, scarred, and angered. Layers of dust have settled on me like a heavy cloak. And I am not alone. Seems like “church people” have the most to shake off, and we cannot ignore the problems, sweep the issues under a rug, or look the other way. No, we have to confront and deal with all of the issues and hurts we have encountered and have caused along the way. But Jesus’ words remind me that at some point in time, I will have to shake it off. The church will have to shake it off. We will have to let the dust of past wrongs and hurts fall off us if we want to move forward. But how many people or movements define themselves by their gathered dust? By their hurt, anger, and fear?

As we move through the last week of Lent, may the truth of Jesus’ admonitions to his disciples resonate within our hearts as we ask ourselves what we need to shake off. Following Christ means we will get tired and dirty. We will be worn down, but periodically we have to stop, shake the dust from our feet, and move on to the next place. Only then does the dancing become easier.

Kristy_Bay_smKristy Bay and her husband Zachary Bay recently relocated to Middlesboro, Kentucky, where Zach is the pastor of First Baptist Church. Kristy received her Master of Divinity degree from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. Her master’s thesis, titled When Narratives Collide, addresses meta-narratives and youth ministry. Kristy loves all things related to student ministry and most recently served as the associate pastor for youth and education at Milledge Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia. She also served on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia’s coordinating council, has written for and led student ministry events such as March Mission Madness and Disciple Now, and has lead worship and done supply preaching in numerous churches. Her sermon, “The Road Map” was published in This is What a Preacher Looks Like, and she has written for Smyth & Helwys’s Reflections devotional guide and other NextSunday Resources projects. She loves music and French (and has a bachelor degree in both), and she loves reading, drinking coffee, and laughing.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for helping me “shake it off” today, Kristy. Beautifully said.

  2. Allie Kilpatrick says:

    Kristy, dropping our baggage so we can fully live in the NOW is so important. Thanks for your message.

  3. LeAnn Johns says:

    beautiful, inspiring words for this dreary Monday. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wanda Culpepper says:

    Loved your message today, Kristy. Thanks!

  5. Carol Stapleton says:

    Thanks for sharing. We all have baggage that we need to shed.

  6. Dear Kristy,

    I cannot express the depth of appreciation I experienced when I read your devotional. It is a hard, but essential place we need to come to. Some people just will not accept that Christ Jesus has called, appointed, and anointed a woman into a leadership role in the church. I have tried to figure it out, abandon the calling, return to serve and pray it through, and now must come to the place of acceptance…first of all, acceptance that the Lord did indeed, as I have known for some time, called me to be a vessel of deliverance, a minister of music, and has given me a pastor’s heart, something I never asked for, because He knew I would need it. And I must also release to the Lord’s care the people who cannot accept that He has called me the way He did. In doing so, I am receiving a measure of peace that I did not have, prior to reading this devo, and relinquishing the outcome to the Lord. Thank you for your insight, your willingness to write, and your obedience to Christ.

    Blessings,

    Peggy Forstad
    Director of Worship, Music, and Arts
    Leawood Baptist Church

    • Emory Taylor says:

      My thoughts to Kristy and Peggy. God had chosen the Jews to be the priests on Earth. Regardless of what He did, they were not carrying out His purpose.. It seems that He came to straighten them out. He had guided them out of captivity, given them a country, promised if they served Him, everyone would see their blessings and they would be an example for all. Read about what happens when anyone tries to take away the land He gave them! Don’t tell me that is old and doesn’t apply today. When does a promise by God expire? If he could get the Jews back on track, the Gentiles would be taken care of. Also, Don’t let His comment on dogs and scraps upset you. Questions, Did He come knowing he would fail? Being God, shouldn’t He know? Maybe the answer is free will. Remember, He is not a Fireman, not a policeman, not a friend, (one who overlooks our warts) He is our Father. Good Fathers do what is right for his children. Sometimes, it needs to be tough love. Also, fathers who do anything for their children that they can do for themselves, are handicapping them. Anytime the devil can separate the family as God set it up, he has a better chance of getting the children. John 8:44 Jesus: The devil is the father of murder, (he got into the first family) his language is lies and he is the father of lies. When asked, “Does this mean when we hear a lie, it is the devil speaking through that person?” Every minister/priest, all Baptist and Episcopal have said yes but one. One said, “So”. I asked what the ‘So” meant. His response was, “Emory, you are not thinking, you have asked me a question that has only one answer. So, when would our Lord ask us to lie and who is left?”

      Peggy, think about the culture and women in Jesus’ time. If the NT Bible is fake, the first two evangelists in history would never have been women. 1. The woman at the well, Notice her conversation, she is not ignorant,and she is expecting a savior. 2. Yes, a woman at the tomb!

      He is our father, He created us, our world and everything we have and can see,. Isn’t it just stupid to put something else first? Don’t forget Galatians 3:26-29 ……………..If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham, and will receive what God has promised.

  7. Carolyn Blevins says:

    Thanks for your words of wisdom reminding us how important shaking it off is.

  8. Erin Hall says:

    Kristy, thank you for this good word. Needed to hear this today.

  9. Kristy, great article! Keep writing. Your written voice is as powerful and beautiful as your singing voice! Thanks for all you did as an intern at Smoke Rise. Best wishes to you and Zach in Middlesboro. How fortunate the members of that church and citizens of Middlesboro are to have you two!!!

  10. Melanie Storie says:

    I am humming that song as I read your beautiful, true words. Thank you so much for sharing!