Luke 14:33 (Message)
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”
In the past couple of years, our yard has shown signs of erosion. Living in this home for more than ten years, there are obviously some things that are in need of repair. We called a friend who is a professional landscaper to come and assess the problem. After wandering around the backyard for an hour, he described a solution to our problem that would be a wonderful addition to the existing pool deck. Solving the erosion issue, it would still create lovely living space for our family. We trust this young man. Not only is a long-time friend, but he has built a thriving business in his profession and his work is superb. When he left, my husband and I also departed on our nightly walk. The new renovation was obviously the main topic of our conversation. Of course, at some point, we began to consider the cost. I honestly have no idea what it will cost to do this repair and renovation. We must wait for the estimate to be completed. Like any other home improvement project, the estimate must be compared to the other priorities in our life as we budget to make the change. In life, we must constantly evaluate our priorities and determine what is most important. This will lead to a well-balanced life. When we impulsively jump from here to there, not considering the steps that we take, it can be disastrous.
I have read Luke 14 many times and rely heavily on the Words of Jesus as He tells His Disciples that in life they must count the cost to follow Him. However, there are many times that I do not fully count the cost and jump rather than waiting on God’s Direction and Guidance in my life. If I am not willing to take what is dearest to me including people and plans willing to walk away to follow Jesus – I cannot be His Disciple. Surely Jesus does not mean that I have to leave my husband and children to follow Him and be His Follower. Jesus Christ must be the highest priority in my life. (Period.) He must be the One who is dearest to me to live in proper order and experience the life that God created me to have. But I don’t always get that. What if… for just one day – I consider the price of being a true follower as I have the rebuilding of our backyard and the new renovation. How would I do that? Jesus paid the price. All I have left to give is my life. Am I doing that today?
Luke 14:28-30 (Message)
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?”
I am a bargain shopper. My mother used to be an extreme bargain hunter and instilled it into me. My own children have adopted such tendencies. There was a time in my own adult life when it was a necessity. The Lord has blessed our family and although there are things we still want – God has supplied every single need. However, when I go into a store let’s say looking for a dress – I already have decided in my mind what I am willing to pay for it. I have disciplined myself over time and now if I do not find what I want at the price I am willing to pay – I will walk away. Drives my kids crazy when I do it, but I just can’t bring myself to pay full price for anything. When it comes to money, most people are quite protective of this valuable resource. In Heaven, it means nothing but to the world’s economy it is everything. Obviously, the world in which we live puts a high priority and value on money. What about our time? We tend to protect our time as valuable and consider how we use it. We plan vacations, trips and outings to use our time the way that we want. We pick and choose our battles weighing the cost of losing to determine if we are willing to absorb collateral damage in our life. So many things that we think about, stress about and worry about all day long – but when it comes to Jesus – the Lover of our Soul – our Savior – our Healer – Deliverer – Provider – Protector – I could go on and on – we seldom factor Him into our daily lives but reserve Him for Sundays, Wednesdays, certain holidays and when we are out of other options.
Matthew 16:24-26 (Message)
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not in the driver’s seat; I am.” Plain and simple. We must surrender control of our life to the Will, Way and Word of God every single day to get where Jesus is going. No longer can Jesus be our last option, He must become our top priority. All our decisions in life should be considered and compared to the Lord and His Word. We must consult with God in prayer and in connection with His Spirit on the inside of us. We must count the cost of our life not to the opinions of this world but to the longing that Jesus has placed in our heart. Our desire to follow Jesus must become greater than any manmade plan or human being who we know. The enemy will use both to distract us. He will use any method that works to keep us from following Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:15-18 (Message)
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
Those who seek to fulfill God’s Purpose for their life find that purpose in Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He came so that men and women could identify with that purpose and made the way for total and absolute fulfillment. You cannot be fulfilled if you do not surrender all of your life. Like a glass with a rock in it, water cannot fill every space because something else has taken its place. When we empty the glass of everything, it can be filled to the top until it overflows. We pack so many things in our life and call ourselves “Christians” but to be a true disciple and follower of Christ means emptying everything out of our life and comparing it to Christ. Every facet of our life must be reconciled to Christ to properly count the cost and make the true decision to follow Jesus.
Matthew 26:39-41 (Message)
Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
The time had finally come. Jesus was headed to the Cross. He had gone to the garden to pray. One last uninterrupted conversation with His Father before they would be separated for a time. He asked His Followers to stay alert, on guard, and pray. As Jesus poured out His Heart to the Father, the disciples fell asleep. Unaware of the urgency or desperation in that moment, the Lord came back to find them all asleep. The Lord asked Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” I find that in the midst of desperation or danger I can pray endlessly. Tirelessly I pour through His Word searching for His Way until the trouble passes, then I still love Jesus but my desperate pursuit becomes a distant wandering. Jesus went on to tell Peter look there is a part of you that is eager but another that is lazy. Is what I am missing out by not staying close to Christ worth losing? Not at all. I am counting the cost today. I am reconciling my life back to Jesus looking for the inconsistencies that have promoted compromise. I want all or nothing. How about you?
Last night as we walked and talked, I left the conversation with my husband getting lost in my own thoughts. I was counting the cost for our project in my head. I continued to think about our budget and how we would save to do it. I kept working out the plan in my head with my own timeline in mind. It was then I realized I was worried about something that in the grand scheme of things didn’t matter that much. That is how fast we get sidetracked in our thinking and begin to focus on unimportant things rather than those things that promote eternal life such as becoming close followers of Jesus Christ. No, I do not think that God wants me to struggle in life. I do not think He wants me to forget about having nice things or the things that I want. All He is asking is to take over the driver’s seat again. Jesus wants to be the number one priority in my life above all people and all things. I must count the cost of my life and see if I am willing to surrender it. I am.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
(I Surrender All – Judson W. Van DeVenter)