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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Choosing between 'good' and 'good' ...



Here is part two of the 'midterm crunch' ... 


Luke 14:25-33 (from the Message)

Figure the Cost

One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?
 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.



Wow … I always get a bit of a chill/shiver when I read this passage from scripture. There is nothing of the warm, fuzzy ‘one set of footsteps in the sand’ vibe here! The bluntness is rather refreshing, however—kind of like the bit of a cold lemonade on a sultry summer day. Because, isn’t that our reality? At least right now? (No, I’m not talking about the lemonade and the summer weather!) Midterm crunch and the gear up to the final stretch of the term is not a warm and fuzzy place to be … it is real, real, real! Are you right now wondering if you are going to be one of those who didn’t ‘count the cost’ of becoming a university student, or being a nurse? Who started strong with great plans but didn’t calculate how much time and work it would take to follow through to the goal—whether that is nursing school graduation, your MSN, or the grueling process of establishing a nursing career ‘out there’?

Here’s the cold, hard reality: unless we are willing to give up some things that we’ve treasured in the past, we can’t take hold of new treasure. When our hands are full, we simply can’t grasp anything more. Physically, socially, relationally, intellectually, even spiritually, we have to put something down before we can take up something new. Our habits, friendships, schedules, activities, lifestyle patterns, all need to be dissected, analyzed, and weighed. 

I think Jesus is suggesting that the choices we are having to make can cut deep—so deep that family are even thrown rather violently into the scrutiny. For most of us, the sacrifices we are called to make are not about good and evil—those are more often clear and straightforward. The more difficult sacrifices for us to see are when we need to choose between two or more good things. That is why achieving balance in life is such a difficult thing to actualize. There is a time and season for everything, Solomon reminds us, and I think that holding the teaching of Jesus alongside the observation of Solomon helps bring us into perspective about sacrifice and accomplishment.

Right now, in this space and time, you and I are being asked to learn, live, and work on this journey we call fall term, 2012. It is taking a toll; it is exacting a sacrifice of you, your friends and family. But it is only for a time. Be encouraged!

Oh, and that warm, fuzzy, footsteps in the sand thing … it’s only when the journey’s done that we get to see the single set of tracks beside the deep water. You are NOT alone.

Blessings on your journey!