Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's not just a trial run

Looking through cards this morning I came across two that had on the front, "On the Move". We are always on the move aren't we? When I think about it we are always following something, either our own hearts, a dream or even another person in our life. It makes me think of those disciples that left everything to follow Him. Usually when we leave something or a place we pick up everything we have and bring it along. We pack for days and grab everything that is of importance to us. But the disciples who followed Christ did not do that. He doesn't even say they asked for time to pack or made a list of all the things they would need for the trip. Did they count the cost? Did they really understand what they were doing? In some ways I think they knew what following Jesus meant, I just don't think they had yet grasped the full meaning.
They left behind everything. Everything! We can hardly even go to the store without our phone. We can't make it through a weekend without our computer and we sure can't make it for a trip without having everything that makes us comfortable and content. When we think about it, don't we just seem to make each trip about us? What will I want? What will I need? What will I bring for each day, each occasion?

When making a decision we can even sit down and write out a pros and cons list. We write in one column all the blessings and things that will make me happy. In the other we write down all those things that might be difficult and bring hard times for me. Even in the pros and cons list it is still all about us, isn't it?

Yes, it is smart to think about things. It is wise to count the cost. It is even wiser to open our eyes to the whole situation, but like the disciples I don't think we fully grasp the situation until we have been there for a while, living it and walking the path before us. There is nothing like experience to guide us. The disciples followed Jesus. They left all they owned and walked with Him no matter the cost.

In Luke 14:25-27 it says this: "A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everything else by comparison-your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be my disciple."

Jesus knew the cost. He knew some would love and some would hate when followers left everything to follow Him. He knew He was asking a lot, but He knew what it would take to give all. When we choose to follow Jesus not everyone is going to understand. Friends will turn away and family will not understand. This world does not want to be friends with someone who follows Christ. Jesus knew the hard road ahead and He wanted those following Him to understand the cost. They were giving up everything. Even themselves. They had to die to self. That is what picking up your own cross means. It means it is no longer about me, but about Him.

Jesus was telling these following Him that everything else in their lives would have no comparison to Him. If their children threw a fit and didn't understand their faith, were they willing to walk the mile? If their friends mocked them and left them alone, were they still willing to go? If their parents disowned them and told them not to come back, could they in fact still follow Christ? I must say this is hard. Jesus never says anywhere that following Him will be easy.

There is a cost to everything isn't there? When we take a stand for something we believe in, we give it all we have. When we are so passionate about something true, we are willing to go the extra mile. Jesus wanted those following Him to have passion in their faith. He wanted them to understand the road would not be an easy one and He didn't want anyone to just take lightly following Him. He wanted those who were there to think about the cost and to understand the call.

When we give all we have. When we lay everything down, Jesus then picks everything up. He carries our load. He knows the cost, for He is the One who gave all for us. He laid it all down on the cross He wore for us. A cross that was meant for us to carry, He picked it up and carried it the whole way so we didn't have to.

He doesn't want our walk with Him to be a trial run. It's not something we just experience for a day and when we feel that ping to follow our heart again we leave Him at the cross to go live our own life again. It's either all or nothing. He doesn't want us to be with Him just through the blessings and the easy stuff. He wants us to stay for those hard days and through the uphill battles. When we do stay, we put our trust in Him and Him alone. Believing in the Savior who gave all.

Can you see Jesus the hours before the cross? Do you think He had a pros and cons list? Do you think He was thinking what is best for me? He counted the cost and He gave all He had for you and I. He did what was needed so that we could have life. And not just any life, but a life with Him.

I can tell you my mother doesn't always understand my beliefs. My children don't always understand the passion I hold for Him and what I am willing to give up. And isn't that what we as selfish people wonder? What is this going to cost me, and what do I have to give up? When we follow Christ it is no longer about us. We cannot let anything in life try to be in competition with Christ. Our devotion is with Him.

But you see there is a great blessing here. When we choose to follow Him, He blesses us and washes us with His grace. He is forever there for us. He knows our needs and He will provide. He will make us complete in Him. When we have Jesus we find contentment in Him. There is nothing else in this world that will satisfy as He does.

Through verses 28-33 Jesus is teaching those around Him what it is to count the cost. He doesn't want them to make a decision lightly. That is how much He loves us. He doesn't force us to follow. He asks us to come. But He asks that when we come we give up everything for Him. Now, He doesn't just leave us empty. He fills us with everything we need. He gives us joy instead of happiness. He gives us life instead of death. He gives strength instead of weakness and faith instead of fear. He gives wisdom where we are lacking and understanding where we are trying to find meaning. He keeps promises when all other fail. His word is true where this world is false. He is that compass to guide us in the dark, giving light to our path.

I don't want someone else to follow Christ just because I do. I want them to follow Him because their heart, that has been searching, can find all they are in Christ. In Him life is complete and all possibilities are opportunities for a greater life found in Him.

Walking with Jesus almost eighteen years ago changed my life. I was made complete and whole in Him. Each day in life is a journey onward, but we must wonder where that onward will be. With Jesus I know no matter where life takes me, He is right there guiding the way if I will just lay myself down and follow Him. Nothing in this world can give me what I really need outside of Jesus. When you weigh the options, and count the cost is there really any other way but to follow Him? If we choose me, that's all we are getting. A temporary life in this world. But if we follow Him, we gain much more. We have everlasting life!!

We are to love our family and friends. We are to love the church. But without Christ we must realize we wouldn't have any of those things. Without Him we have nothing, but in Him we have everything! To follow Him we must be ready to face opposition and rejection. We must be willing to stand for our belief in Him when all others turn away. To do so Jesus will give us all we need to stand with Him. It is when we choose to stand with Him that we really find who we are and all He created us to be through Him, Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life-is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."
Ephesians 1:13-14 "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."


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