Once upon a time, there was a girl named Meredith. Now, this girl named Meredith was a very ambitious sort. She had just finished her semester at school and had before her a long and beautiful summer.
“What shall I do with all of my time?” Meredith asked herself, twirling her naturally curly hair thoughtfully.
She thought and thought, then thought some more, when suddenly, it hit her. She wouldn’t just enjoy this summer, she would triumph over this summer! She would have projects done and cleaning done and writing done, all after having built the best blog ever seen and learning to speak three languages! It would be the most productive summer she had ever had!
As these visions filled her mind, growing more all the time, Meredith was thrilled. She promptly made herself lists of things to do and hung them on her wall for all to see.
Day followed day, the summer waxed and waned, and Meredith worked on her lists. She never stopped to organize her time or to figure out how long it would take. She just figured that if she wanted to do these things badly enough, then eventually they would all get done.
When the summer had faded into a barely visible glow, Meredith stood in front of her list. Somehow, not even half of the projects had gotten done.
“How could this have happened?” Meredith asked, ashamed at her glaringly unchecked list. “I wanted so badly to finish!”
Little did she realize that true work was not built on excitement alone. One must always first count the cost.
Did you recognize the Biblical parable buried in the (sadly true) story of that (obviously random) girl named Meredith? While Jesus was here on Earth, He used parables about things in daily life to help as He taught. My story was based on one of those parables, and here is the (much better) original:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.” -Luke 14:28-32
What do my lists, a guy building a tower, and a king with a tiny army have in common? Well, the answer is actually found in the verses around the part I snipped out. Luke 14:26-27, the verses before, say,
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Then the verse after the story says,
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
This is something that isn’t talked about a whole lot. Christianity is a beautiful, wonderful, exciting thing, but it comes with a lot of sacrifices that we need to be ready for.
When we first accept Jesus as our Savior and first try to wrap our heads around the fact that we are now cleansed, have the hope of Heaven, and can talk with and follow the Holy God, we are lost in the glow of excitement. Just like I was with my projects or that builder was with his tower, we think that just because we are thrilled now, that is how it will always be. We start to think that if we just want to follow God badly enough, then everything will come easily.
But that’s not how it is. We have to work hard at growing in Christ and making the right decisions. Then there are things we have to give up, sometimes things as precious as close relationships with family, as Jesus said. In the end, we have to be willing to put Jesus absolutely first, no matter what.
That’s not a decision that can be made lightly. It has to be seriously thought over. When we first choose to give our lives to Jesus, we have to “count the cost” of what that will look like for our lives. Then, every day after that, we need to “bear our cross” and follow wherever God leads.
Paul was an example of a man who was willing to do that. Whether he was despised, beaten, or thrown in prison, Paul kept going through the strength and joy of Christ. He even said to the Philippians as they were suffering, “For to you it has been granted for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). He likened suffering and sacrifice to a granted gift. We have so little to give to God who has given so much to us, that he considered it a blessing to be able to give something to His adored Savior.
Sometimes, pressing on and working for Christ is harder than we imagined possible. The world pulls us one way while we are trying to push on another way. When we feel like that, though, we can also remember that we have hope in every sacrifice that we make because our God is so good. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
I didn’t count the cost of time when it came to my projects and activities for the summer, but I pray that as I live for Christ and serve Him through witnessing, the Wicket Gate, reading my Bible, and helping in my church, that I am really counting what it could cost me to choose those things. I also pray that, despite the cost, I will still be able to say, “Lord, You are worth more. Please use me. I am yours.”