Jesus said "'Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of me.' At once they (Simon and Andrew)left their nets and followed him." Mark 1:18.
Our pastor spoke about how we do not have to leave where we are today to "follow Christ". We can stay right where we are, be changed by Jesus, and bring His kingdom to where He has placed us. He had me thinking at that point because so often I do long to sell all of our wordly possessions and move to a 3rd world country. In many ways, I do believe it would be "easier" to follow Christ there. I'm sure you can see what I mean. We have so many distractions here in America and so many pressures. Even though we homeschool, and therefore we do not have the pressures that children encounter at school, we still are faced with many - to play baseball, basketball, music lessons, to be in the theater play, to do this and that. In Uganda, I don't think Katie and her 14 children are dealing with all of those distractions (http://www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/). Now certainly, Katie is faced with distractions that I can't fathom here like an elderly woman w/ AIDS and no one to care for her. Life just seems simpler there, and I know that it is likely more of a necessity to keep your eyes on Christ when you are living in that environment. But for the forseeable future, God is not calling me to a 3rd world country. He is calling me to "lay it all down and follow Him" right here and right now. What does that look like? Is it costly? You bet it is! Does it involve sacrifice? Most definitely!
Our pastor even asked the congregation this question which has really had me thinking: "What have you given up to follow Christ?" I don't want this post to turn into what I have given up because I will declare right now that I have not given up enough! But I do want to share with you a few of my thoughts.
Someone recently asked me if I was tired of homeschooling. She said "Aren't you tried of that by now?" Yes, this is my 7th year, and to be honest, I am quite tired of it. In all actuality, I have been "tired of it" since the first year, and I have tried to quit numerous times before. I have dragged my husband to almost every private school in our area. I always prayed before our visit, "Lord if it is your will for me to stop homeschooling and send these precious gifts, whom you have entrusted to me, to school, please grant me peace." I never once for a moment had peace. I was disappointed for I wanted to feel peace so I could send them to school! However, each and every time, I knew that it was not God's will for me to quit - on Him. I believe and know with all of my heart that He called me to homeschool so for me to quit just because I want to, would be disobedience. Daily I have to deny myself - not just as a mother- but as a homeschooling mother. It is my calling. I rebel and complain and grumble - all sin. I do not have this "follow me" thing perfected, but I know He is at work in my heart so I keep praying for help and strength each and every day.
Last thought of the day - adoption. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about our fundraising efforts to help lessen the financial burden of Hudson's adoption. She said "If you want 7 children, then I think that's great." I interrupted and explained that it is really not that I want 7 kids. My life would be ALOT easier if we had never adopted. We would have only 4 children with the youngest being 6 1/2. We would have well over 50,000 dollars more than we have right now. We could have taken our 4 children to Disney World or to Williamsburg, Va. for a costly field trip (I really wanted to do that this year as we are studying this time period in history). David and I could have taken that trip that we talked about on our honeymoon - where we went back to Young Island in the Caribbean for a week to celebrate a big anniversary. But, no, that was not God's plan for this family. It was His plan for us to deny ourselves and "follow Him" . . .to China. . .not once but twice and soon to be 3 times. Why? Because He commands it in His word.
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
My life is not easy and many days it is downright hard. Yet, I thank Him for it daily. I am so thankful that God has chosen to put me "right here, right now". I am so thankful that He chose to call me to homeschool my children, and I am so thankful that He called us to adopt Lilly, Ellie, and now Hudson. I am so grateful that He did not leave me where I was - a lukewarm, self-centered child of God. He used many people along the way, and I have thanked them too!(thanks Gabe & Kim and Josh & Betsy) It's amazing how God works, He led us to homeschool and then to adopt. If we had sent our children to private school like we were planning, we likely would not have been able to even contemplate adoption due to the overwhelming costs. So on this day, I give thanks and praises to my Father in heaven for doing more with my life than I could have ever dreamed of! And I look forward to seeing where He leads us next. Back to China again. . . Haiti. . .Ethiopia . . .only God knows! But I do know this, when He asks "Who will go?" I will gladly say "I will!" For even though the road may be difficult and people may call us crazy, His plan is always better and richer than anything we can imagine! May His name be praised forevermore!
And now back to the original question: What has it cost you to follow Christ? What more does He want you to do? What more does He want me to do? Questions that deserve some serious pondering.