"If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life." Mark 8:35......"It will be worth it all when we see Jesus." Lyric from classic hymn
Is there a point in your life that you feel you cannot go past in your walk with Jesus? Is there a point, a place, where you tell Him that you just cannot make that sacrifice, you cannot bear that cost? I once saw the question asked concerning just how much suffering, what degree of cost, can Christ trust us with? How heavy of a cross are we willing to bear? Are we really willing to bear His cross at all?
In the book, "The Insanity Of God," the author tells of his meeting a former Islamic terrorist, a man who by his own admission had personally killed over 100 people, and that was without counting those he killed in pitched battles. The author called him, "the toughest man I ever met," but it was not for his combat experiences. It was for his faith in Christ the King.
The author met and interviewed the man in secrecy, because he was being sought by his former comrades for his faith. He was on a death list. In the midst of the interview, the author found that this man had also led his wife and two children into the faith. He then asked what he thought was a simple question; just where did the man's family fit into his ministry and witness? What happened next shocked him. He'd been conducting the interview in a mostly dark room, to protect the man's identity and features. Yet with that question, he came out of the shadows and gripped the interviewers shoulders with unbelievable force. He cried out, "How can God ask it? Tell me, how can God ask it? I have given God everything. My body has been broken. I have been jailed. I have been starved. I have been beaten. I have been left for dead. I have even been willing to die for Jesus. But do you know what I fear? When I go to bed at night, what keeps me awake and what actually terrifies me is that God might ask of my wife and children what I have already willingly given Him. How can He ask it? Tell me, how could God ask that of my wife and children?"
Such a question would leave all of us speechless if we were to try and answer in our wisdom. The author breathed a prayer to the Father, and then was led to speak these words, "I personally cannot answer your question, but I would ask another question that I have had to ask myself: 'Is Jesus worth it? Is He worth your life? Is He worth the lives of your wife and children?' With that question, the man broke down into deep sobbing from within. He buried his face in the interviewer's shoulder and wept. Then he pushed away, wiped his tears, and simply said, "Jesus is worth it. He is worth my life, my wife's life, and the lives of my children." The author than writes, "With that, the toughest man I ever met said goodbye. He turned and walked out of the room." The author states that all this took place more than a dozen years ago, but to this day, that man and his family continue to bear the cross of Christ in the midst of intense darkness and persecution. They had settled the question as to the worth of Jesus Christ.
I am humbled and convicted by this account. Are you? Our breaking point with Jesus is so shallow. So often, the slightest discomfort, the smallest cost, causes us to shrink back from Him. Even if we are willing to bear a painful cost in following Him, we oftentimes balk at having any of our loved ones involved in the sacrifice. The landscape of the Church is filled with those who turned back because the cost to their family was deemed too great. I understand this. It's human. We all would ask Him, as did this man, "How could He ask that of me?" I don't know that He'll ask it of you, as I mentioned, He does know just how far and how much He can ask of us. But He does bring some to such a place. He may well bring you there. I believe He brought me.
I write this with no boasting. I am no hero of the faith, I reserve that designation for men like the one above. But I do know that there was a point in my walk with Him when I faced such a reality. In my marriage, I came to a place where my former mate made it very clear that she would only consider staying if I were to leave my ministry once and for all. I didn't want to lose my marriage. I had been seeking every means possible to save it. Yet when confronted with this ultimatum, the only response I had was, "How can I do that? How can I leave what I believe is His lifelong calling for me? How can I turn away from that?" Even more, I thought that to do so would be the same as leaving Him. I couldn't, and so, I lost my mate, my family, and for a time, my ministry. The pain was unbelievable. Even today, 30 years later, I still bear great sadness over it. But if you ask me, even with that cost, was He worth it, I have no hesitation in saying, "Yes, He was, and He is, worth it. He's worth it all." ....I make no judgement on anyone else in this. I don't say that this is what you must do, but I know it's what I had to do. It's what I would do again.
In Hosea, God asks Himself, concerning disobedient Israel, "How can I give you up?" At some point, we all have to ask ourselves this question; "How can we give Him up?" At what point can we? At what point have we? We all have places where we've failed Him. May there never be that place where we turn from Him. He bids us to "count the cost" of following Him. The costs will vary, but there will be a cost. Is He worth that cost to you? I know this; when we say "yes," we will see Him. And when we see Him, it really is worth it all.