Ordering steak at a restaurant is a gamble that I’m just not willing to take. The price of the steak in comparison to the probability that it won’t be prepared to my liking is just too great. Paying an exorbitant price for a piece of meat that will not be immensely enjoyable is not something that a man who desires to be frugal does. Of course, my idea of an exorbitant price is anything over $12, so my choices are somewhat limited.
This is also one of the reasons that it has been a long time since my family has gone to see a movie in an actual movie theater. With me, my wife, and our 5 kids it takes approximately the equivalent of one year of Lady Gaga’s album sales for us to do this. What’s a Lady Gaga? I’m not sure, but she rakes a lot of money from her “little monsters.” And If you throw in popcorn, candy, and drinks the cost of a movie excursion for my family skyrockets to a level that even Bill Gates finds uncomfortable.
Another thing that irks me about going to the movies with my family at this stage of our lives are the continual trips to the restroom. My three young sons can’t seem to get on the same page, pee-wise. One has to go and then a few minutes later another has to go and then a few minutes later another has to go and then by that time the cycle is close to repeating itself. One strange result of this is that I think my bladder has shrunk. I used to be able to hold my water with the best of them, like there was something noble about being able to drive from Knoxville to Myrtle Beach without having to urinate. Now, because I make myself go whenever I have to escort my boys to the restroom so as not to waste an opportunity, I have a bladder the size of a shot glass. This is how it feels, anyway.
I attribute some of this thinking to how I was raised. When spending money I was instructed to think hard about whether what I was going to buy was really worth the cost. Money didn’t grow on trees and there might be something else out there that I would like better. If I spent my money on the first He-Man toy I saw, I wouldn’t be able to buy that GI Joe toy that I would like better.
In truth, this was a good lesson to learn. The importance of counting the cost can not be denied. It goes far beyond money, though, to things of far greater significance. It goes to the very core of our lives.
Is what we give our lives to worthy of the investment? Are the things that I pour myself into worth the struggles and heartaches that accompany them? I don’t want to waste the life that I have been given. And I would guess you don’t either.
Jesus implored those who would follow him to count the cost, to make sure that it was worth it. He didn’t want people deciding to follow him to quit when doing so became too difficult. All you have to do is read the accounts of those who followed Jesus to know that it was indeed difficult.
And it still is.
Proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which is really no Gospel at all, try to convince their listeners that the Christian life will be filled with material gain and physical blessings. If not, there must be a lack of faith or the presence of unconfessed sin to blame.
But when you look at the lives of the early followers, you can clearly see that this is not the case. God is not most concerned with our material possessions or our temporal happiness. He is most concerned with our transformation into the likeness of His Son and our eternal holiness.
I have heard it said that being in the center of God’s will is the safest place to be. If the safety that is spoken of is physical safety, then this is a lie. The nail scars in the hands and feet of Jesus and the pains experienced by the early followers of Christ are proof of this.
As we seek to follow Christ, we must continually count the cost in relationship to what is gained. I have done so and have seen that what lies ahead for me as I follow Jesus is worth any trial that I may have to endure.
I hope the same is true for you.
I don’t order steak at restaurants or desire to go to many movies with my large family because I don’t think what I receive is worth what I must give for it.
However, if we give our lives in service to our Savior, what is received in return is far greater than our human imaginations can comprehend.
(What has following Jesus cost you? What are you looking forward to most about Heaven? Go ahead and share!)