If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost.
– Luke 14:26-28 (NLT) –
How many times do I jump into something without counting the cost? I don’t remember thinking about the verses above when I accepted Jesus into my life, confessed my sins, and asked Him to be my Lord. It can be easy to paint a picture of Jesus from my own preconceived notions, or by simply reading the verses that I like to read. I like the Jesus who is easy to follow. I like the Jesus who tells me to keep living in the U.S. and enjoy life in the here and now. I like the Jesus who always says, “I love you.”
But, I don’t get to make up or choose which Jesus I get to follow. After all, there is only one Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that I might live. It makes sense, then, that He gets to make the rules and I have to look at the whole picture, not just the parts I like.
So, I read the verses in Luke 14 and realize that before we skip off to the Mission Field, perhaps Jess and I ought to consider what the cost will be. I would like to think that we can jump in with both feet and trust that God will take care of everything, but this wouldn’t be the wisest choice. Jesus tells the people who were following Him to count the cost, primarily because He knew that they were following Him with joy because everything was easy at that moment. It is easy to follow Jesus when people are being healed, demons are being driven out, the Pharisees are being rebuked, and people are being fed miraculously. But, that is not the true test. Jesus knows that it will not always be easy.
There would come a time when Jesus would be arrested. There would come a time when Jesus would suffer. There would come a time when Jesus would die. Where did all those crowds go?
What will Jess and I do when things get tough? We need to know, and resolve in our hearts, that we will not allow anything to change between us and God no matter what happens. We need to know what dangers, what hardships await so that we are prepared and ready to respond with faith and not fear. We won’t know everything, but we should know what we are getting into.
So, what is the cost? I have heard it said that whenever you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to multiple other things. What are we saying no to? What are we letting go of?
- One of the greatest blessings is how involved both of our families have been, are, and desire to be in the years to come. We have lived so close to Jessica’s Mom and she has the pleasure of watching Adelina every Tuesday while Jess works at Summit. We lived with Jessica’s Dad for a few weeks and he makes frequent trips to Reno to visit his family and his lake house. My parent’s have made it a point to fly out to wherever we live once a year, and we usually come home for Christmas to see FarFar and FarMor (My maternal grandparents), my brother and his family, and my sister. We love our families and it is important that we cultivate and maintain these relationships. Yet, following Christ to the Mission Field (wherever it may be) will mean that we will not get to see our families as much. We will Skype and iChat and email and facebook, but we will lose something by not being present, by not giving hugs, by not sharing a cup of tea, by a thousand other things that can only happen in person. This is one of the costs that we face.
- We attend an awesome fellowship of believers here in Northern Nevada. Summit Christian Church is an absolutely joyful place to work and celebrate our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I stood behind the Starting Point counter a few weekends ago and was struck with the reality that I wouldn’t be there soon. But, I love these people. I will miss these people. In fact, I miss them already!!! They have been through so much with us and we have traveled with many of them through their ups and downs. We have prayed for them, visited them in the hospital, shared meals, etc… But soon, we will be sent out. Our family will always be a part of the Summit family, but we will be part of an “extended” campus. Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it is gone. Well, I know what we have here at Summit and I know that it will be difficult to leave such an amazing church.
- Food! Recently, Jessica poured over a mound of magazines in order to clip out and save the best recipes. She would carefully remove them with a pink scalpel she bought at Michael’s. I placed the recipe in a plastic sleeve. As I was putting the sumptuous recipes in the plastic sleeves, I realized that we wouldn’t be able to make most of these dishes once we reached the Mission Field! I mean, where are we supposed to get cake flour, vanilla bean paste, quinoa, or possibly even beef!!! Don’t laugh! Our diets will change and so will the way that we cook. And don’t get me started about going out to eat!!! We do not eat out much, but it is nice to be able to go to a restaurant and have someone else cook the meal for us. Yes, we will have an airplane and the ability to fly all over the place. But, it is not like there’s an In-N-Out or a Whole Foods in the middle of the jungle or on random Indonesian islands!
- Life in the U.S. can be easy and safe. Have you ever thought about the fact that there aren’t too many dangerous animals in the U.S.? There are some countries that have lions, cheetahs, poisonous snakes, elephants, spiders the size of a human hand, fire ants, anacondas, tigers, rhinos, hippos, crocs, etc… What do we have in the U.S.? We have some poisonous snakes and mountain lions, a few grizzly bears and some alligators in Florida, but it is a safe place to live. I turn on the faucet and crystal clear water, sometimes with added minerals for taste and fluoride for my teeth, flows freely! I turn the hot water on and I have it in seconds! I can get anything I want for lunch (especially raw fish) and it is good to go! I can go to movie theater and see the newest releases. I can go to Costco and buy twenty pounds of two-ply toilet paper and a side of ribs…make that six sides of ribs! Life is ridiculously convenient! Most diseases, especially the really bad ones, do not even exist in the U.S. I could live in the U.S. and my greatest health concern might be a heart attack or hypertension, instead of the numerous diseases that exist, and sometimes thrive, in third world countries.
Yes, there are other costs. Financial costs of not making anything close to a six-figure salary. Comfort costs of enjoying the latest technology or installment of Angry Birds. Relational costs of not having tons of friends and being able to call any of them just to hang out.
But, before you get depressed for us, or think that we are anything more than a family just like yours, I want to remind you that there are some things that we are saying yes to…
- We are going to fly airplanes all over God’s creation. (And the airplane that we are going to fly is simply amazing!!! http://questaircraft.com/kodiak/)
- We will teach our children to fly and we can fly on missions as a family whenever there is room in the plane!
- “Tis a gift to be simple, Tis a gift to be free…” Nothing says simplicity like living in a remote village without many distractions and living as a tight-knit family!
- Our children will receive an education that we couldn’t buy, and they will know at least two languages!
- It will be a great way for us to disciple our children and show them what it means to follow Christ.
- Our house will have plenty of land and places to explore all around. There will also be a football field (a.k.a. a runway) where the children can play, ride bikes, and do all manner of things that only become real through imaginative play!
There will be a cost for us as we endeavor to serve the Lord anywhere in the world as Missionary Pilots. There will also be benefits. I cannot foresee every cost but I do know that nothing will make us love God any less. He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Shelter, our Ever-Present Help in times of need. He is our Provider, our Sustainer, our Salvation, our Peace, our Hope. He gave us our lives and we will give them back without reservation for glory of God!