Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Counting Costs

Originally posted on February 4, 2012

Her eyes widened. Behind the swirl of olive, gold and brown her mind swam desperately for an answer. With frustration and twelve-year-old honesty she answered, "I don't know what it means."
I turned to her ten year old sister across the table. "So, if you had to choose Jesus over your Mom, would you do it?" Her jaw dropped and a rim of tears warmed the corners of her eyes.

We were studying Luke 14:25-33:

 "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Photo take by jeltovsk
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' 

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

I remember as a kid, listening to this passage and feeling terrified at the contradiction. Sunday School taught us the Colossians 3:20 words as the answer for everything, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." 

Now Luke was telling me that I was to love God above everything else, even if it meant hating my parents.

What is a good Christian kid to do?

When I asked adults in my life, the fumbled answer was: just ask Jesus into your heart and read the Bible. It will make sense if you don’t have any sin in your life. 

I think they were just as confused as I was about the whole thing.

In preparing for this Girls’ Bible Study breakfast, I knew the something better was required. As I prayed and pondered it hit me; maybe Jesus' words meant exactly what they meant. It was not a flippant arbitrary statement.

Then words these words echoed: count the cost.

Photo take by xandert
For my Grandmother, the cost of her becoming a Christian was disownment from her family. God brought my Grandfather, who introduced her to the Gospel. She spoke proudly of the Jesus who loved her enough to give her hope. She counted the cost and loved Jesus more.

I realized it doesn't mean expecting disownment or rejection because of a response to that holy call. It means to stop, and consider what I am willing to give up. The choice is not consequence free. Friendships may be lost. Family abandonment or employment may change.

How often have we prayed never pausing to consider the cost of the answer? Patience is prayed for and what follows is a difficult season. I hear friends respond with flippant sarcasm, “I prayed for patience and look what it got me. I won't pray for that again."

My response to those girls was this: Counting the cost is stopping to think. If I choose an action, am I ready for the result? If I ask to grow closer to God, am I ready for a season of dependence? Do I pray for someone's healing without pondering the possible damage from the metamorphosis?

Counting the cost looks like a conscious and purposeful prayer motivated by hunger to understand God better accepting whatever the consequences. When I pick up my cross, I am choosing his method of answer and laying down my own. This action grants me the grace to endure.  The result always is an unexpected answer: I fall deeper in love with Jesus.

More than anything I want to see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, Day by Day.

A Mother Life

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