At What Cost? (Prayer Devotional for the week of November 15, 2015)

I am happy with where I am now, professionally. I absolutely love teaching college students and exploring my research ideas. My schedule is such that most mornings, I’m able to take my younger kids to school, and I even have time to run errands in the middle of the day now & then. I didn’t land my dream job overnight, though; my current success came at a large personal cost. In total, I spent about 10 years of my life in college, and I’m still paying off loans from grad school. I didn’t watch TV for about four years, because I needed every moment of free time in the evenings to study and write. I tried not to miss any big events, but some play time with my kids was also sacrificed during those years when I needed to work late or study.

All that is to say: there’s a cost to be paid in pursuit of our life-goals. Honestly, the same could be said for our spiritual lives. We’ve been working on a new song for the worship team recently, and one of the lines says, “Take it all, take it all, my life in your hands.” Every time I sing those words, I’m reminded of what it costs to follow Jesus. It’s not about having an emotional experience at church or camp; it’s about letting Jesus have total control of every aspect of your life.

In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus had a very frank conversation with a large crowd of wannabe disciples. They wanted to come along for the ride, but he needed them to understand that following him would be costly. Verse 26 often gets misinterpreted as Jesus advocating that we should hate our parents and siblings, but that’s not what he’s saying. I believe what he’s trying to communicate is that we are to have so much dedication to him that our relationships with everyone else – and our view of ourselves – pale in comparison.

The question is: What are you willing to sacrifice? What amount of free time, financial resources, mental energy, and elbow grease are you willing to put on the line to follow Jesus? Following Jesus is truly rewarding, but like the earlier analogy of my job, it takes effort and commitment to bring it to fruition. Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) warns, “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” If you are going to sing a song like “My Heart is Yours” or “I Surrender All,” then you need to mean it.

But, I don’t like curry! (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 14, 2015)

I had an imaginary conversation with God this week, and it went something like this:

God: “So, what time do you want to meet for lunch today?”

Me: “Whenever, Lord.”

God: “Let’s say noon.”

Me: “It’s really crowded then. How about 11:30 a.m., instead?”

God: “What do you want to eat?”

Me: “Whatever, Lord.”

God: “Let’s have Thai.”

Me: “Eww, you know how sick I got in Thailand that one time. Besides, I don’t like curry.”

God: “But, I like Thai.”

Me: “Fine, which Thai restaurant do you want to go to?”

God: “The one in Thailand.”

Me: “Where?!?”

God: “But, you said you’d follow me whenever, wherever, whatever.”

Me: “I meant anywhere but there, Lord.”

 

I know better than to say that I would never move someplace (Never say never!), but there are certainly spots on the globe that I would rather not go. No offense to the breathtaking terrain and colorful culture of Thailand, but if I had my druthers, I’d prefer to not go back. I became violently ill the one time I was there; consequently, the smell of curry makes my stomach churn, even to this day.

 

When we sing songs in church with lyrics like, “Where you go I’ll go,” or “I surrender all,” do we really mean it, or are we just giving lip-service to God? I don’t believe that God calls each of us to a life of poverty or compels us to move continents away from our extended families, but I think the point is that we are willing if he does call us, and that we are open to his voice. We are each gifted in unique ways (check out 1 Corinthians 12 and take Crosstraining 301 to learn more about spiritual gifts). He expects us to use those gifts to his glory, no matter where we are. Be assured, though, that our faith-walk does require sacrifice. It may not mean getting cholera and typhoid immunizations and relocating to South Asia, but it could mean inviting your grumpy co-worker to church or giving up an evening of television every couple of weeks to tutor at C4.

 

Whenever. Whatever. Wherever. Do you mean it?

(Originally posted January 29, 2012)