The cost of following – the strange thing is that you don’t know what that actually is going to mean. When God first pricks a heart, awakening it to the needs so deep, yet previously unknown, He whispers (or sometimes is quite loud) that they should follow. Some turn away, wanting to make their own way and shape their own future. But dotted around the globe are those who sense that this call is the one they have waited for their whole life. Ears hear, faces turn, and then the whole body and life move to follow.
We don’t know in that moment what it will cost. Some don’t even consider it well. Some come to know Christ and their road still seems easy. Others struggle with great loss and great pain. But when the hardest of times come we remember that no matter where He leads us, we stay close behind. When it is so dark and stormy that we can’t make sense of what is around us, that is when we are most aware of the Lord’s presence with us.
In the course of a week, I’ve seen what it looks like in the lives of others to suffer. Two similar circumstances with the loss of a child, but two very different experiences. I saw each only from a distance. Both appeared quite difficult, both had some confusion, both wondered where to go next, but grief was worlds apart between them. One family stood their as the child lay dying, desperate and without hope. Thoughts turned to “what will people think of us”. Life turned to fumbling, purposelessness, and uncertainty. There had never been more than this life to think of, and so even in such a moment, there was still no room to consider the greatest of questions. There was pain with no aspect of rest or hope. The second family too had a sharp, cutting loss. But they cried out to and rested in the arms that they had known many times before. In the midst of weeping, they trusted God enough to know that His plan had not failed. Even as the child died, they could whisper to her to run into the arms of Jesus. They knew that the little girl was going somewhere amazing, even into the everlasting, outstretched arms of God.
Both families realized that being in the developing world had risk, but they were willing to take those chances. Their purposes though were very different. One family came just to wander, the other came to follow after Christ. The first is lost, still wandering, but in the midst of pain and suffering greater than they imagined. The second has some of the same pains, but they still follow with purpose and vision. Their vision may be clouded by some tears, but they dimly can see the Savior just in front of them. They realized that the cost of following could be great, but the shelter beneath His wings is unimaginably better.
To follow God has always cost. Saints of old have shown us the cost with their lives. Even as Jesus passed through and bid for those to come after Him we see that they left much. Houses, family, jobs, stability, riches, social standing – all left for the uncertainty of walking with Him. But Peter may have put it best, when the disciples were asked if they wanted to turn away from Him. He replied, “To whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life”. Whatever the world offered apart from Him could not provide what was most needed. No matter the price, Jesus was worthy of their lives.