We’re very happy to have this guest post from one of our teammates, Steve Orner! He provides a great perspective on “Counting the Cost: Taking Your Family Into Hard Places.” You can visit his family’s website here: http://orner.aimsites.org/
A s we search for God’s call in our lives, we find ourselves many times in the shoes of the rich young ruler. We seek Jesus and we ask him to tell us what he wants us to do. Then Praise the Lord, He answers! And then life gets complicated. At least in our own heads. We as believers start to weigh the costs. We come to Jesus with what we expect in our minds and we have already decided what the “limit” on our personal account will be. In the case of the rich man, Jesus asked him to give up what was valuable to him, and trust and follow Jesus. It was a price that the young man was not ready to pay, so he “went away sad, because he had great wealth”.
When I look at my own life, I can say that my great “wealth” is in the form of my family. I love my wife and kids, and I would give my life for them in an instant. I have, as a man, a very strong urge to protect them and provide for them and nurture them. I want to keep them from harm, and I want to give my kids the best opportunity in life.
So when I asked Jesus, “What can I do to follow you?” and He answered, “Take your family to a hard and possibly dangerous situation. Give them to me to take care of, and all five of you come and follow me.” I then did what most men would do, I did my research. I looked at medical care, and safety concerns, and schooling options, and everything I could think of. I thought through every situation that I could and added it all up in the scoreboard of my mind.
The result was that if I was going to take care of my family and keep them safe, and provide opportunity for my kids, then I would have to renegotiate with Jesus, or reexamine my calling, because to follow would definitely not be taking my family into a good situation. At least in my mind. How could I take a 9-month-old, and a 2 ½-year-old and a 4-year-old to a place where they could get sick or hurt and be days away from medical care? A place with no schools, where my wife and I would have to struggle to educate them ourselves, and where they would be exposed to demonic activity and where child trafficking happens? I was ashamed of myself that I was not strong enough to pay that price.
Then I went to the Bible and prayer and poured out my fears to my Lord. The disciples also faced this reality in their own lives as well. They asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Paul also encourages us by saying in Philippians 4 that he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength.
S o many times we quote Philippians 4:13 and take it out of context. We use it as a motivating verse to help us accomplish temporary things. I believe this verse comes out of suffering. It comes out of sickness, and hunger and pain. It comes out of disappointment and seeing human expectations come up short. For me this verse comes out of seeing my 11-month-old covered in a rash all over her body from the heat in Madagascar. From spoon feeding rehydration liquid to my 2-year-old because he has diarrhea and knowing that if I don’t get enough liquid into him, that he could crash and die. It comes from wanting to pack up and go home, the morning we woke up to find blood all over my 5-year-old from a rat chewing on her finger while she was sleeping. It comes from wondering if my wife and I will be able to homeschool our kids at an academic level that will get them into a good college someday, or if they will be able to cope as an adult in America after they grow up in a Malagasy village.
I can do all things through Christ; with God all things are possible.
Even with this, safety is not a guarantee and neither is my kids turning out “normal”. Jesus is a guarantee though, and how He is shaping and molding all five of us. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It has made me be more intentional about doing the things that I can do to influence my family’s outcome. I pray for them a lot more than I used to when we lived in a “safe” place. Even though they are now exposed to many more “messed up” people than before, they also are exposed to some amazing intentional men and women of God to have as role models. They get to see God shaping us, and they get to be molded as well. We get to experience pain, crisis, and adversity as a family. My prayer is that these experiences will build their faith throughout their lives and that when they are adults and on their own, that they will have an unshakable foundation wrought by our opportunity to follow Jesus in challenging places.
So as you look towards where God could be calling you, take heart and rest in the cross and in the fact that Jesus is enough and that He will not call you to where He has not already been. Remember that there are no superhero Christians or people that can do things that you can’t because they are “holier”. We are all men and women who are saved by grace and if we follow Him in faith, “with God all things are possible.”
The treasures in heaven referred to in this story in Matthew 19 are built by faith and sacrifice and are the only thing lasting on this earth. The only thing we can guarantee and put our hope in is Christ. The tragedy in this story is not money, but an individual choosing their personal “treasure” on this earth over Jesus telling them to “Come, follow me.”
Either we seek his leading and follow where he leads us, or we don’t follow him at all.
“In every situation your kids will be looking to you to be the living example of God’s Truth” – Matt Chandler, Family Discipleship
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.