A Serious Undertaking
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it?29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.
Reflections: “A Serious Undertaking”
Have you ever felt a ‘nudge’ to do something new and challenging? When I was a young teenager, I went on a two-week backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range with other United Methodist youth from Minnesota. One evening, about a week into the trip, we were relaxing around the campfire after a long day’s trek, discussing the next day’s activities, the pastor-leader Rev. Marks calmly announced the next day’s training event around trust, in which we would each be given an opportunity to rappel off a 70-foot cliff (I probably was not the only kid who wondered if my parents knew about this little adventure beforehand?). In spite of my bodily fatigue from the day’s climb up the mountain, my mind kept me awake that night with racing thoughts of ropes snapping and my young body slamming like a rag doll onto the rocky floor below. Finally, my thoughts succumbed to the weariness of my body, and I slumbered peacefully, warm sleeping bag hugging me with comfort and warmth.
The next morning arrived and we ate our granola and drank our cups of Tang in the silence of the mountain sunrise. Rev. Marks though, didn’t waste time preparing us for the event; he probably knew that if we were given a lot of time to mull over the prospect of trusting our lives to a small group of people holding ropes, we might back out. So, after we washed our metal camping cups from breakfast, he went through the basics of rappelling. And then he gave us a few minutes to ponder whether we were up for this exercise of trust. Although I was really, really scared, I felt a ‘nudge’—an invisible message of assurance-- to accept the challenge. Only one or two kids declined to rappel off that 70-foot cliff that day. I often wonder if they regretted their decision.
Somewhere in my house, buried in a stack of warped photos from my Kodak camera, is a picture of me backing of that 70-foot cliff, pigtailed, sweaty red bandana tied around my neck, hiking boots half on rock and half in empty space, a small, nervous smile on my face. The memories and emotions of exhilaration and trust of that day, so long ago, are still fresh: I trusted Rev. Marks. I trusted that my group of peers would keep the rope taught as I made my way down the cliff to the ground below. I trusted that the carabiners would not snap open. Later, as I wondered in awe at what I had done, I realized that the ‘nudge’ I had felt was a ‘God-thing’, which had transformed my life by instilling more self-confidence and trust and deepening my relationship with God in Christ. I could feel God smiling with joy!
This experience of ‘call (nudge) and response’, fear of the unknown and whispers of assurance, and the result of a life transformed, is the analogy I use whenever I share another life-transforming experience: that moment in 2007 when I chose to respond to Jesus’ nudge to give my life to him, to trust him, to become his disciple. As I stepped into the unknown, I felt an assurance that wherever my faith journey took me, I would never be alone. And like my first experience rappelling off a 70-foot cliff somewhere in the Wind River Range, my life was transformed forever.
As Jesus describes to his followers, the call to discipleship is not easy. I can attest to that! My decision to become a disciple of Jesus Christ turned my world upside down—and that of my relationships with husband Eric, children, extended family, and friends. But my trust in Christ spread to my loved-ones; although they may not have completely understood what had happened to me, they trusted that this was truly a ‘God-thing’, and that what plans God had laid out before me, it would all be good. Very, very good. And so it is!