Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Counting the Cost

I have spent the day in a sea of phone calls, real estate listings, good faith estimates, and Excel sheet calculations. As we examine the cost of home buying - from the closing costs to the staggering monthly payment - Don and I must consider what we are willing to sacrifice for the dream of home ownership. Is it worthwhile for my husband to work evenings, weekends, or holidays so that we can make ends meet? Am I willing to take in someone else's children in order to have money left in savings at the end of the month? And even if we can scrape together enough to pay the mortgage, how will we pay for other things? Supposing we are fortunate enough to find a place that needs no repairs or updates and we even like the color of the walls, there will still be expenses. If we buy a home with a full size living room, we will want a full size couch instead of the Styrofoam loveseat that fits perfectly in our cozy apartment. And we might like to have a table for the dining room that seats more than four people...or a fence for the yard...or a refrigerator...and those things will cost money. I guess I am hoping that our future home will include a money tree in the backyard. Without it, the prospect of home ownership on a single income seems daunting.

As we look to the Bible for wisdom, I find Jesus reminding us to consider the cost:

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
- Luke 14:28-30

But Jesus was talking about more than towers or single family suburban homes. He spoke of the cost of discipleship, a subject that has been a recurring theme for Don and me this year. We have listened to John MacArthur preach on it. We have examined our own spiritual walks: are we really willing to give up everything to follow Christ? And the Lord has impressed on our hearts the magnitude of true Christianity. Yes, we knew that salvation was more than saying a prayer or believing that the Bible is true. We were both blessed to be raised in the church, so we know all the text book answers about God and the Bible. But when we committed our lives to Christ, did we really count the cost? Consider the preceding verses in Luke 14:26-27:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

I knew, as a teenager dreaming of marriage, that wives are called to be submissive. But did I know that submission might mean giving up a dearly held dream or desire to replace it with the dreams and desires of my husband? I knew that I was called to love others. But did I consider how difficult it might be to love those who hurt me? I knew that Christian love is patient, but did I realize my patience would be tested to the limits when I fulfilled my calling to mother young children? No, I certainly did not know the specifics, but I can see how the Lord is refining me through every struggle. And as I bear the burden of my cross, I am not alone, for He is right there with me. Being Christ's disciple comes at a cost, but it is accompanied by the blessings of being considered His friend.

For the true Christian, God must be all. He demands my everything - every thought, every desire, every action must be submitted to His Will. He deserves nothing less from me. I do not want to be the foolish man with the half-built tower. My Lord has laid a firm foundation in my heart, and I trust that He will continue to build me up in Christ until I am complete.

Houses are expensive, and the price of home ownership is great. The cost of discipleship is far greater, because it cannot be paid with cash or credit. Jesus paid everything for me through His death on the cross. I owe Him nothing less than my life in return. If I am to be a true follower, He must come before houses, before children, before my husband, and before any dream that springs up in my human heart.

When I look up at the steep and winding path before me, and consider the cost of following my Shepherd, let me put my calculators and my selfish desires aside. May my heart be wholly His as I simply count it all joy.

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