Counting the Cost:
Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 5:19 that when we enjoy our work/labor it is a gift from the Lord. As I look back on my sixth trip to Asia this year, I know my love for what I do is as strong as ever, but the enjoyment is lessening. From August 2010 to August 2011, I have flown over 120,000 miles. My last three trips were filled with drama. In March, the day I returned home, Anne goes into labor. My trip in June started out slow because Sarah was in the hospital the week before. On the way home, I missed two flights due to a weird delay and lost my luggage. This trip I experienced a stomach virus that had me in bed for two days in Hong Kong with chills and stomach cramps. It seems like each trip takes a bite out of me. So what am I learning through these situations?
As I pray for the kingdom to come and for Jesus to be known throughout the world, there is a cost associated with that prayer. Even when we enjoy our work, we still have to count the cost. In Luke 14, Jesus tells us that it is costly to be His disciple. I wish I could tell you that my attitude toward this truth is saintly and I always take joy in counting the cost of being Jesus’ disciple, but that is not truthful. I find myself sounding like my children in my prayers. I am constantly whining about this or that, and my prayer life is extremely narcissistic as I only concentrate on my comforts. I am glad that God does not become as frustrated with me as I do with my kids. In the midst of my whining on the flight home on how “tired” I was, our gracious Father reminded me of many truths in His word. The main truth is that servanthood and sacrifice are closely connected. If I am to serve Him and His children, I will have to sacrifice. In modern vernacular, I can’t have my cake and eat it too. If I focus on my cake, I miss out on the fruit. In this trip, we achieved one of the main goals of our primary project. In this midst of this success, I celebrated a few minutes but lost sight of everything once my comfort and ease was taken away.
Another truth I remembered is John 15, Jesus is the vine/lifesource! There is no fruit unless it is by and through Him. I must abide in Him in order to produce the fruit and so once again in my life He refocused me. Everything is about HIM! It is not about me, my comfort or even my calling. It is about His supremacy and my heart knows that my surrender to Him is the right way, but my flesh battles me every moment. Why do I despair? Why is my soul cast down? If only on these trips as the enemy tries to come and kill and destroy my joy, I only look to Him, the maker of heaven and earth. My prayer should be focused on “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. It sounds good, but as always it is a daily battle.
The success I mentioned was a big moment. For over three years, I have been working with World Relief Cambodia to develop leaders who will one day lead the organization. The future is now as the Cambodian leadership team assumed the interim country director role. They are afraid but yet they know the concept about abiding in Jesus much more than I do. They know where they are weak, He is strong!