Counting the cost

I was lamenting to a friend last week how much I missed having a yard.  "I want a garden, and a place for Ellis to play while I sit on the porch." She looked at me and said matter-of-factly, "You sound like an American."

Indeed.  Some days I miss my American-ness.  I miss crunchy autumn leaves and sidewalks.  I miss the smell of Target.  I miss frozen pie-crusts, Netflix, the sound of lawnmowers, and having goosebumps.  These are just some of the things off the top of my head in the last two minutes.  They definitely come under the shallow "first world problems" category.  I've learned over the years to let little things like this go.  But becoming a mom and raising a son makes me long for more meaningful things in deeper ways.  I'd love for Ellis to have a little garden to call his own.   That he could learn to catch tadpoles, build forts out of sticks and other things little boys do when given a wild space and left to their own imaginations.  That he could know his grandparents and fight with his cousins.  That we could go camping as a family and that Ellis would foster a love for the outdoors.  These kinds of hopes and dreams aren't as easy to let go of.

On days like this I have to remind myself that following Jesus requires radical sacrifice.  Not the "I'll give two hours on a Sunday morning and if I'm really feeling holy, I'll give up chocolate for Lent" kind of sacrifice.  It's the counter-cultural, take-up-your-cross, foolishly-generous kind of sacrifice that makes the normal Christian feel uncomfortable.  It's the sacrifice of comfort, security, and approval because Jesus means more than any of those things.   It means not wasting my life trying to fit into the "hopes and dreams" box I built in my heart for my family.  It's the kind of sacrifice that followers of Jesus around the world die or spend their lives in jail for.  Sacrifice that doesn't want to just look and sound like the followers of Christ in the Bible, but is ready to follow Jesus, always at great cost, like they did.  

The cost of sacrifice in my life has been relatively small compared to that. Yea, we moved across the world - but Penang's not a bad place to live!  Of course I miss my family - but I don't struggle with homesickness. Plus, I have family who visits.  Living on support means living simply - but we wouldn't have it any other way.  It doesn't seem to be anything to write home about.  But I feel the cost when I'm pouting over living in a small apartment and I want more for my family.  I feel it when I watch friends fly home twice a year to visit family while Ellis won't meet his cousins until after his second birthday.  It comes every time Christmas rolls around.  I feel it every time I have to die -again- and surrender to God the things I hold onto so tightly.

But while counting these petty costs, I see Christ who left His homeland - where he reigned in spectacular glory.  Where every comfort was his.  It was a sacrifice so great it's beyond comprehending.  And He identifies with me even in this weakness, this small sacrifice.  And His promises for me are full in this obedience.

"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life".  -Matthew 19:29

Did you catch that?  Eternal life!  There isn't anything that's not worth sacrificing for that.  Take the world - along with its pie crusts and crunchy leaves-  and give me Jesus!

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