Monday, November 07, 2011

the cost

When people ask "What is the hardest part about living in Haiti?" The answer is easy. It has nothing to do with illness, bugs, heat, or lack of bacon, milk, and strawberries. It is not the daily interaction with heart-breaking poverty or the front-row seat to see  the devastating consequences of it. Those things are hard, but those things are not the hardest.

It has everything to do with wanting to stay connected to the family and friends we deeply love and left. It has everything to do with feeling guilty for letting them down, for missing big things in their lives, for being distant and different and sometimes hard to relate to or understand. It has everything to do with knowing we are where we should be and knowing that some are hurt by that. It is horrible to make a choice that hurts people you love... It's uncomfortable and makes us squirm.

I read this the other day and thought about how much simpler it sounds in print:
"You can only obey God," she wrote to a friend who faced the breaking of human ties to follow Christ. "Let us give ourselves away to Him for His world---away down to the deepest depths of our being, time, influence---and home if He calls us to it; but our heart of hearts first."

"Separation has nothing austere or narrow about it when it is unto Him. To bear His Name with all that is wrapped up in it of fragrance and healing and power, to enter into His life and share His eternal purpose, is a calling for which it is well worth counting all things but loss." 
(LR. Govan Stewart: The Love That Was Stronger)

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The excerpt(s) below were taken from the blog of a bold young woman in Uganda named Katie. You can read her entire post here.

"A few days ago an American woman who had spent about three days of her life in a third world country looked at me and said, “I would SO love to do what you do. I would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, I would take 14 kids in a second!” It is a good thing that I was having a graceful day, because I said, “Aw that’s nice.” But my not so graceful heart was angry. And the not so graceful voice in my head wanted to say to her, “Ok then, do it. I can have you 14 orphaned, abandoned, uncared for children tomorrow. So here is what you have to do: Quit school. Quit your job. Sell your stuff. Disobey and disappoint your parents. Break your little brother’s heart. Lose all but about a handful of friends because the rest of them think you have gone off the deep end. Break up with the love of your life. Move to a country where you know one person and none of the language. And when you are finished, I will be here waiting with your 14 children!” I wanted to ask her what was stopping her, knowing that the answer would be her comfort. I wanted to look at her and tell her that my life was full and joyful and WONDERFUL, but I also wanted to tell her to COUNT THE COST. Because my life IS full and joyful and wonderful, but it is NOT easy. My life is NOT glamorous. I do not expect it to be. I do not think that anything about carrying a cross was easy or glamorous either.

Which brings me to my point. I am not actually that angry about what that woman said, it was just an offhanded comment. But it got me to thinking… How many times to we grieve our sweet Savior’s heart because we refuse to COUNT THE COST? How many times do we choose comfort instead of the cross?

I wonder today if I had been one of the people listening to Jesus as He spoke in Luke 9 and 14, if Jesus would have convinced me to follow Him or if I would have walked away. I believe I would have really really wanted to say goodbye to my family. I wonder about “Christians” today. We wear Jesus on our T-shirts, we wear His cross around our neck and a bumper sticker with His name on it on our car. Have we just laid the foundation without being able to build the building? Does Jesus feel like I did when a woman I didn’t know told me she would love to do what I do but I knew that she never would? Do we claim the precious name of Jesus Christ without counting the cost? Without being willing to REALLY give it all? And does Jesus, in His infinite grace, look at us and say, “Aw, that’s nice,” but really with the furry that he flipped over the tables in the temple want to spit our lukewarm selves out of His mouth?

This is heavy on my heart. If we believe that these words are true, the way we are living is not tolerable. How can we live in willful disobedience and claim to know Jesus Christ?"

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The first time I read Katie's post it was painful for me to read.  At my core I am selfish and immature. I live in a bit of denial and her post served to prove to me that I want to ignore the hard parts of what being obedient could (and does) mean.  I want to have no hardship and I want to experience only the perks of following Christ ... I want to give up nothing to serve Him and I want to be rewarded for giving up nothing.  I want no suffering for myself or my family and I want an easy road. When hard/horrible things have happened I've felt angry at God, ripped off, and entitled to better.

I am sharing these words because they are the things stirring in my heart, mind, and soul right now. They aren't easy things. 

I'd like to become a person that accepts the hard parts every bit as graciously as I accept the easy and fun parts. I'd like to whine less when things are hard. I'd like to lament less about the things that have changed. I'd like to say without reservation "I trust Jesus with everything I have and everything I am and at all costs I choose to walk with Him." And then,after that, I'd like it to be true.