We all screamed with joy as we watched a plane fly above us. I remember that day so vividly. The sun was bright, almost blinding my eyes, that I had to cup my hand over my forehead. With the other hand, I pointed at the tiny dot high in the sky and told my cousins, “I am going to get to ride that soon!” Actually, I said it in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, India where I was born. My parents had just told us that we would be moving to the USA, and we would have to fly on an airplane to get there. I didn’t know much about America, but I had seen airplanes on television and I was so excited to ride one.
As a seven-year-old, I had no idea what my dream would cost. I would have to give up all my friends at St. Anne’s School, daily playtime with my cousins who lived next door, eating jackfruit and mangoes off the tree, seeing my new pet calf grow up, and much more.
It’s fun to dream and share our plans with others, but sometimes we forget that every new chapter in life, as amazing as it is, comes with a price tag. There are things we must give up in order to experience the fullness of what is ahead for us. And this is true when we decide to follow Jesus. In Luke 9:23, Jesus urges us to count the cost. He makes no compromise when it comes to discipleship: die to yourself, crucify your selfish desires, take up your cross, and follow me daily.
Being a disciple means giving up your life for life. No holding back. No turning back.
Jesus wants every part of our lives to be saturated by His love and to bring Him glory, but that requires sacrifice. Romans 12 teaches us that worship is presenting ourselves as living sacrifices. Paul tells us that this means we no longer follow the patterns of this world but live with a renewed mind that yearns for the perfect will of God. Dying to self isn’t behavior modification or following rules. It is living a life of surrender and obedience out of a deep desire and delight for Jesus. It is daily choosing to lay down our own agendas to follow the Good Shepherd. It is offering every part of our lives to the One who gave it all for us.
When was the last time your following Jesus cost you something or you took a bold step of faith or gave up something for the sake of Christ?
It’s easy to go to church once a week, but it’s hard to read the Word daily or commit to tithing when the future seems uncertain. It’s easy to listen to a sermon on our commute, but it’s hard not to cuss out the crazy guy on the road or gossip about our neighbor. It’s easy to post a verse on social media, but it’s hard to live out its truth in the midst of pain and struggle.
In His grace, He calls us to Himself and wants us to live surrendered in full obedience to Him. Often, we are like the rich young ruler from Matthew 19:16-30, who did all the “right” things but wasn’t willing to give up all things for Jesus. The passage says that he went away disappointed.
Friends, we can have all the things and even do all the “right” things in our own eyes, but if we can’t fully surrender ourselves in obedience to Jesus, we won’t experience the full, abundant life God has for us. When Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him, they left everything to do so. Are we willing to respond likewise?
As we rode on the plane to America, I looked down and saw the big coconut trees that outlined the coast of Kovalam and all the lights that twinkled and danced on the streets of Bombay. All of it seemed so small from up there. The things we have to give up and sacrifice may seem huge at the moment, but when we see it through the lens of God’s love, we will understand that nothing compares to Him. All the beauty, fleeting pleasures, and glamorous moments of this world pale in comparison to living a life walking with Jesus.Leave a Comment