In Luke 14, Christ discusses the importance of being willing to lay down all that we have in order to follow Him. He does this by encouraging us to count the cost of becoming His disciples. Here, He uses two images: that of a man who lays a foundation but is unable to complete a tower upon it, as well as that of a king who must face a superior force and decide whether to sue for peace. The import is clear, as is the cost which Christ asks us to be willing to bear. He says in verse 26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Does this require that everyone who would follow Christ must entirely turn away from those closest to him? No, not always, but what the images of the builder and the king make clear is that he who would be a disciple must be prepared to bear that cost.
I mention this passage at this point in my ministry because I am in a season of preparation. My final ordination exam on the floor of the presbytery is coming up in a few weeks. I am still plugging away at classwork, and many ministry opportunities which show promise of fruit are as yet unripened. The chief trial is yet to come, and at the moment, I can only busy myself preparing to meet it. During a season like this, the question of “What must I be willing to give?” becomes dreadfully concrete, as I consider the stresses which this work will place on me, my family, and all those close to me. The entire process has called me to die to idols I did not even know I had. Things which might be harmless distractions in other situations gnaw at the edges of time and focus which is vitally necessary to the work. As I am less able to set aside time for the family than before, the time I am able to be with them now requires that I be that much more present in the moment.
At the end of the day, all of this is for the good. These pressures demand that I not only count the cost in vague abstractions, but that I actively die to my own desires daily. Reader, we will all face a season in which we are challenged to truly die to ourselves in our service to God. He has borne me safely thus far, and I pray that He would make me willing to bear whatever load He intends in the future. I would encourage you, reader, to consider the cost He asks you to bear, not merely in generalities and abstractions, but in the particulars. Is it possible that our Lord calls you to render service to Him, but it is a sacrifice that you are unwilling to make? May He strengthen us all that we will not be counted among cowards or fools when the trials laid out for us finally come.