Counting the Cost

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 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. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”  Luke 14:25-33

It was September 4, 2006, around 10:30pm and I was in our dining room writing an email to some dear friends of mine to request that in the next few weeks, they’d send emails or give calls to my mom.  I knew it was going to be hard on her.  From where I was sitting, I could hear her crying in my parents’ bedroom. 

I was leaving for Mexico the next day.  Not just for a short trip.  I was moving there.

My heart broke for her.  It was of course sad for me too, but I knew it was going to be hard on my mom (and my whole family too– but especially for her)– and that was harder for me than my own sadness of leaving.  I finished my email and then spent some time with my mom comforting her and trying to make it easier. 

It was at that point that I began learning the lesson that the Lord will give you grace for whatever He has called you to.

He did give me grace.  I remember arriving in the Mexico City airport the next night.  I was going through customs, getting ready to meet the training missionaries waiting for me.  And I thought, Oh goodness, what have I done?

I laugh now.  But it was a big leap of faith for me!  My family came to visit me 4 months after I moved to Mexico and I think that trip gave us all peace to move on.  It never became “easy” to say goodbyes, but we learned how to process through the emotions of the hard times of being away.

Anywho, where’s this coming from?  Well, more than a year ago, I went for coffee with a good friend of mine.  As we were walking there, she mentioned that counting the cost for moving overseas would be high for her, as she had a little one she was taking away from the grandparents.  I agreed with her, imagining what it must be like, but honestly– not really understanding.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation the last few weeks.

Because now I understand. Even now, having my little one be so far away from her grandparents is hard.  And we’re only states away!  We try to keep them involved, sending them pictures and videos of what’s going on, skyping to let them coo at her.  I know that it’s difficult for them.  The excitement of getting my little one’s passport in the mail is bittersweet for them.

Again, the Lord will give grace for whatever He has called you to.  For us, He will give us the grace to transition to a foreign land and patiently learn how to share His love with a people who do not speak our language.  For my parents, I know He has a different type of grace for them to accept their dear ones being taken away.  It’s a good thing the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter.

When we were taking the Perspectives Course, during the History Section, I was continually amazed at the fervor and tenacity of the missionaries of two and three centuries ago.  Man, they were the real deal.  They left and didn’t come back.  They didn’t have Skype.  They didn’t have telephones or Priority Mail.  They didn’t have hospitals or even translation dictionaries. They often packed their belongings in coffins they purchased.  There was no turning back.

They counted the cost.  They caught the vision of a passionate, saving God who wanted His Rescue and Redemption broadcast to the very ends of the earth.  They knew their Savior who was the Greatest Missionary ever, who sacrificed His life to give them life.  And they knew it was all worth it.  The pain of leaving home.  The difficult journey.  The hours of study to be able to communicate.  Sickness.  Loneliness. Death.

They heard their Savior calling them from distant lands where He wanted His Kingdom to go.  And they followed.

Honestly, my plight doesn’t seem so terrible when I consider them.  In fact, I usually feel like a wuss. The ache of only being able to see each other via Skype makes me thankful that we have the privilege and comfort to be able to see each other via Skype.

But, nonetheless, I must consider: is it worth it?  Do I have what it takes to finish the call?  It’s unwise to just jump into it, like the parable Jesus told.  We must consider– is it worth it?  And if it is: am I willing?

Well.  If I want to be a disciple of Christ, then I must be willing to give up all.  If I am to be His child, I must recognize that all is my Father’s anyhow.  My call (and yours as well) as His follower is to be a disciple maker, and if I am to obey, then I must take my assignment sheet and find out where it is I am assigned.  I really can’t be His disciple if I won’t obey Him in all.

Our assignment happens to be in a different location than my parents’ and siblings’.  For them, the cost (in this situation) is submitting to God’s will and releasing us with grace to be obedient to the Lord’s call. 

The wonderful thing though is that it’s not something we go about in our own strength.  The Lord goes with us, gives us power, gives us grace.  He sustains us, encourages us, pushes us further.  And for whatever “sacrifice” we are called to make, He is always generous and gracious with us.

So, after zig-zagging across the mountain a few times, it comes down to the fact that we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  He is so worth it all.  It’s hard, yes.  But if we love Jesus, we must obey Him.  And when we obey Him, He is pleased. 

Those are my thoughts lately.  The truth of it gives me peace, but it doesn’t take away the emotions.  Still, I’m thankful for Skype.

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