The Cost of Following

I have had the distinct pleasure of being together with our Junior and Senior Youth these last two days. A couple of months ago I was asked by our Youth Pastor if I would consider teaching. I am so thankful for the chance to be with them. This was the passage we looked at together.
Matthew 8:18-22 
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.  Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
I knew as soon as I read it that God was going to “make” me do it. If you have ever had the Holy Spirit come to you and push you to do something, you know what I mean. I should have just emailed him back saying yes immediately. Instead I took time to look at my schedule, see what was happening, and pray about it. Now when I say pray about it I mean wrestle with God.  You may be familiar with this.

“But my kids are there, they don’t want their Mom coming in on their time with friends!”
“I can’t talk about Jesus without crying, no one wants to watch a 40 year old woman crying on stage.”
“But I haven’t talked to youth for over 15 years”
“This is a hard topic”
“I am not sure I can speak on it with integrity”
“But…(fill in the blank with any old rational)”

I can come up with a million excuses. 
Eventually I just emailed back and said I would do it. I am learning it is better not to spend too much time wrestling.  
I have prepared for months. I have been studying and praying about the scripture. Praying that God’s word would transform all of us through it. As I did this my love for the young people grew. I am almost bursting with love for these youth. I got up to speak and was almost vibrating with it. 
We have had the pleasure and privilege of serving at our church a long time. This August it will be 20 years. Some of these kids I met when they were a day or two old. Some I rocked in the nursery while they cried for their Mama’s. Some of these kids I played with in the toddler room and helped them up and down that blue elephant slide while we giggled with glee. I may have taught them Bible stories in children’s ministry. I know them through my kids or through their parents. Even if I don’t know them my heart is excited and full of love for them when I see them running through the halls of our church. 
It was an honour to be with them these last two days. I can see God is working and it is encouraging. 
Jesus has been on a whirlwind tour just before these verses. He has healed many people. A leper was cured. Just the power of Jesus’ words healed a servant. He healed many from demon possession and illness. A crowd gathers. They are drawn to the power. They are attracted by his miracles and caught in the moment. They have never known anyone like him.
Riding the thrill of everything happening people want to align with him.  They are hoping some of that power will work in their favour. Jesus sees their hearts. He sees my heart.
A teacher of the Law, a spiritual leader says, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!”  Jesus responds, basically saying “I have no place to lay my head, I have no place to call home.” Will you follow me now? Jesus doesn’t promise me physical comforts or even my physical needs. The Apostle Paul knew what it was to have plenty and what it was to be in want. He knew hunger and a full belly. 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 tells us all he endured to follow Jesus. God doesn’t promise me comfort and safety or even a place to call home. This isn’t my home. I am not supposed to get busy making myself comfortable here on earth. I am not supposed to make myself at home. I am passing through. He calls me to follow. I need to lay down my expectations of what I might get in this world.
This is hard for me. I am creative and aesthetic. I am like a raven, my eye is drawn to “shiny” treasures. These are distractions from what life to the full is.
Another disciple says “Let me go bury my father.” Without missing a beat Jesus says “Follow me. Let the dead bury their own dead.” Following Jesus comes before our social obligations and expectations. He may call us away from family. He may require you stay single when you want to marry. You may want two kids and he has chosen to give you five, or none. Are you willing to let go of your expectations? Will I let God be glorified through my life the way he wants to be glorified?  He didn’t promise me those things. He doesn’t owe me those things.
Following Jesus may cost me my expectations. Following may cost me what I think I deserve. It will at times cost me what I want. It will make me uncomfortable.  I wont always know the way or what is next. It will cost me my selfishness.
But what does it cost me if I don’t follow?
It costs me being close to him. It costs me knowing him fully. It costs me becoming my true self. 
When our kids went off to school I started praying. I had time. I wanted to know what he would do with it. I thought maybe he would do something with my degree in Psychology. Maybe he wanted to work with my degree in Christian Ministry. No. He said, “You are going to be a Hairstylist.”  I love academics! I would love to study  forever and get seven Doctorates!! No, I am cutting and coloring hair. At first this hurt my pride.  But you know what? God had a plan and I am loving it. With God, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. He takes cutting hair and makes it Kingdom Building. It is more than just hair. I get to listen to peoples lives, pray with them and for them. I get to be used by God to restore a feeling of dignity and beauty.  I get to watch him seep into the hearts of my clients and love on them through me, When I follow, I get to experience life to the full. I get to be where the action is. I get to be in the middle of the party. Everything else is dull in comparison. I am ruined now. Nothing but following Jesus is fulfilling anymore. This world leaves me dissatisfied. It disappoints. Only Jesus will do.  Whatever I have to give up to be where he wants me to be is worth it. The cost of following is worth it.
I follow because one day I will get to stand before my Savior. I will get to see him face to face. When I do, I want to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I follow because I know I am passing through. I was made for Heaven. 

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