Trade-Offs

“Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to him, ‘Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'” (Luke 9:57,58).
I arrived in the little town of Syrabre Bensi after ten days of trekking and preaching in the Himalayas. Nowhere had there been any facility for bathing. The best I could do on the trek was partial “sponge-baths” every once in a while. “Dirty” does not begin to describe the way I felt. As we came into the town, one of the guides mentioned a hot spring which came out of a cave on the riverbank, just outside the town, and said that I could go there, insure privacy, and take a bath. I was ready. Hot water that I could lay down and soak in sounded very close to Heaven. And it felt just as good as it sounded.
If you have much experience with hot springs, you recognize that many of them at least have sulphur in them. Sulphur stinks! (Think rotten eggs and paper mills). Ordinarily I find this very unpleasant and will go to lengths to avoid the smell. Not this time! Even though this particular spring had a lot of sulphur, I did not care. The luxury of a real bath in hot water was far greater than the slight annoyance of a bad smell.
Life has many such trade-offs. To earn the money his family needs for food, clothing, shelter, and education for the children, a man will work at a difficult, unpleasant job. To spend a few days of leave with loved ones, a soldier will make a long uncomfortable journey. Everyone must decide what his or her own priorities are and what price he is willing to pay in order to obtain them.
Christianity is no different. Jesus taught that there is a cost of discipleship. One may follow him, but in so doing he may give up comfort and even security. Even the animals have safe refuges, but not Jesus, and perhaps not his disciples. To serve the Lord one gives up time and resources which might have been used more selfishly. To please him, one must deny himself pleasures and possessions that Jesus does not approve. One must put the needs of others above his own desires (Philippians 2:3,4).
But it is worth far more to please and serve Jesus than to own the whole world and use it for our own pleasures.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-13).
No price is too great to pay in order to follow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is able to repay us for whatever we may lose and to sustain and protect us whatever we may face. Any loss or suffering we may endure is merely a minor trade-off, unimportant compared to the treasure we gain.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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