So, I have stopped and started this post a couple of times… There are so many ways to take it. So many things I want to say. But this is what I know, God asks hard things from us. Most of the time they make no sense, and all of the time they require sacrifice.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…
Let me clear, I don’t hate my family. They are an anchor of hope for me! But, I don’t think this is what Jesus means. I don’t think he is literally saying to hate them. The reality is, family and friends provide a certain sense of security. They are a safety net. They are comfortable. They are home. But if Jesus had no place to lay his head, why should I?
Let me tell you, I was comfortable. Four months ago I was living at home. My best friends from college were an hour away. My girlfriend was 40 minutes away. I was saving a lot of money and didn’t have to buy groceries. I was working at a pretty sweet job at a rapidly growing church. I was part of a student ministry team comprised of brilliant people.
And then everything changed. Pretty unexpectedly I was let go of my job and had no idea what I was going to do next. I started the search process and after a few weeks got a call from Red Rock Church here in Colorado Springs. I was intrigued to say the least, but move to Colorado? So far from everything I knew? I wasn’t so sure…
They flew me out for a visit and some interviews. I hadn’t even been here 24 hours and I knew Colorado Springs was where I was supposed to be. The staff was incredible. And I’m convinced God created the mountains just for my enjoyment.
But Colorado? There are mountains in North Georgia. Why not there? Or Tennessee? But God was calling.
So, I said bye to everything I had ever known. Sold my car. Packed three suitcases and my bike (thank the Lord for that bike), and headed west. A real life Oregon Trail. Just without a covered wagon and I didn’t quite make it to Oregon.
I’ve been here almost four months and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Don’t get me wrong, there have been days and nights, hours and minutes, where I thought I couldn’t do it. Where I thought I would never make it and I was in over my head.
I had to make new friends. Start a new job with new people. Learn a new city. Learn how to mountain bike. I wasn’t on a team with with brilliant people anymore. I had to buy my own groceries (still figuring that part out…), budget my own money, and make my own decisions. Not only that, but every decision I made and am still making has eternal significance for students all across the springs. Talk about pressure.
And then God came knocking again. This time he went straight for the heart, asking for something I had spent a lot of time fighting for. A lot of time investing in. A lot of time loving. I fought with God. Wrestled. Pleaded. I was mad. Angry. Sad. Confused. But God is God and he is sovereign. I mean, Jonah tried to resist God’s will and got eaten by a whale. Now, I don’t think there are whales in Colorado, but maybe…
Regardless, God had spoken and I had to obey. So, I shouldered my cross and proceeded to follow the Lord. Wherever he may lead. Because when God calls his disciples, he asks everything of them.
So, here I am living in this beautiful mess, wondering why in the world God does some of the things he does. I’m asking God why he asks so much of us and why it has to be so hard.
There is a story in the book of John I have heard several times over the last few weeks. In the story one of Jesus’ best friends is sick. As a matter of fact the Bible refers to him the “one Jesus loves.” This man is Lazarus and he is on the verge of death. Jesus could have done something about it. I mean, he could have healed him from the chair he was sitting in at the time he heard the news, but instead he simply does nothing. He waits. And waits. And Lazarus dies.
Now that the situation is all but hopeless, Jesus decides to act. He said this…
“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
I love that. He is going to wake him up.
Well, when Jesus shows up, a funeral was happening and everyone was mad at Jesus because he was a little late. I mean, if he had just come sooner. Faster. But he didn’t.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
My thoughts exactly…
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Of course she does…
And so Jesus does what only he can do.
“Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
Yes, you read it right. Jesus told Lazarus to come out of the grave. He had been dead for a while and he smelled bad. And I’m sure you can guess what happened.
The dead man came out…
Yes he did. He walked out of the grave. You, see Jesus wasn’t late, he was patient. He knew God’s glory would be praised far and beyond just healing a sick man. This guy was dead. And now he was alive.
I don’t know why Jesus does what he does sometimes. I don’t know why he asks so much of us and why it has to be so hard.
But this is what I know, if we believe, we will see the glory of God and every morning I walk out my front door and see the glory of God displayed by a snow capped mountain rising to 14,000 feet. This doesn’t make the heartache or the pressure or the overwhelming feeling goes away, but I smile. Because I believe.
And I’m awake.