Monday, September 04, 2017

The Cost Of Discipleship

This is from Labor Day, 2013. In happy news, I later that year baptized this young lady into Christ!
Happy Labor Day 2013! I wish I could just relax and take it easy but I have quite a bit to do in terms of school work and I still have not found my checkbook which has been AWOL for 48 hours- that could end up being my major project of the week. Plus, I'm teaching our Wednesday night adult Bible class in two days; 7 PM if you're interested and it's a power point presentation on my mission to Vietnam. Plus, there are dishes to be washed, workouts to get in, and of course, a devotional blog to pen.

Last Friday, I got a FACEBOOK message from a former student, one of my all-time favorites. She just began her career as a kindergarten teacher but that wasn't what the message was about. It was about her soul and she wanted to get together. She suggested a nearby Starbucks and we met there for more than an hour this morning. She told me of her spiritual journey, some of which I knew and some of which was new to me. She- and I'm deliberately going to be vague on some things- was born on the African continent into a family who are members of a religious movement that is not well-known here in the US. Political instability led them to move back to their country of origin and eventually to America where I met her in my eighth grade Bible class. She had different standards than many American kids but this was typical- she had a crush on a former WCS basketball player whose picture she saw on the wall with his graduating class! She did well the two years she sat in my room. She wrote one thing on a quiz as a sophomore I'll never forget:
'When I'm in this Bible class, I wish I were a Christian.'

That might be the nicest compliment I have ever been paid in my life.

As we drank our coffee, she filled in some of the other gaps in her life. When she was eighteen, a man she had never met approached her parents at a wedding and wanted to arrange a wedding between the two of them. They agreed and it was set. Eighteen months later, she knew it should never come off and her mother paid the man $5,000 to annul the contract. We talked about how much she loves the little ones in her new class and how she has changed her last name slightly to make it easier for them to pronounce. And as we reconnected after all of these years, we focused on why she reached out- she wants me to baptize her into Jesus Christ so He can be her Savior and her sins can be washed away. She told me she is still studying and searching. I'm so excited for her and honored that she wants to be part of the biggest day of her life. It's not far off.

This morning, I read an article link on a friend's FACEBOOK page. The gist of the piece was an analysis of why so many young people are abandoning their churches after they leave home. From the author's perspective, the problem has been American Christendom's focusing on hip preachers and a watered down Gospel while not challenging young believers intellectually or sacrificially. I don't know enough to say if I agree with him so let me just tell you how our meeting ended this morning. I asked her what the reaction of her family would be to her putting on our Lord. She explained that here in the States, some would be fine with it and some would be upset. She told me that they would find out eventually because she has decided she will only marry a Christian man. I asked what might happen if she returned to her native land. She replied it was possible she would be disowned by her relatives, a horrible consequence in any culture. I didn't know if I should but I had to ask one more question; Is there a chance you would be killed? She told me there is. As I type this eight hours later, I'm reminded of the second verse of the hymn by Isaac Watts, Am I A Soldier Of The Cross?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

And as I drove away from Starbucks this morning, I just realized how light the cross is that I carry. Please pray for those believers around the world who struggle to bear it on a daily basis. It can't be their burden alone.

Applicable quote of the day
"To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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