When the Lord first saved me He posed a question to me: will you be saved or will you also be My disciple? The question did not come as an audible voice from God but as an intimate conversation with His Holy Spirit inside of me. The Lord explained to me that salvation cost me nothing except a heart broken over my own sin and a spirit contrite unto God, but discipleship would cost me my life, my dreams, and anything else that I would dare call mine. By that time the Lord had opened my eyes so that I saw clearly that I had nothing of my own that was worth keeping so I answered that I would be a disciple. I’ve learned over the years that it was the single most expensive decision I have ever made. And also the most profitable.
In the beginning God showed me a small part of what walking in His footsteps would look like for me. He filled my heart with visions of peace and joy and abundance and love like I had never dared hope for. He told me that this was my heritage as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Then He showed me the cost. My dreams, my goals, my expectations, my idea of what my life should be, all had to be sacrificed. Exodus 34:14 says that God is a jealous God; He will tolerate no desire upon the throne of our heart that is as powerful as our desire for Him alone. God taught me how to love and lead my new wife and how to raise my young daughter in the way that she should go but what I learned came at the cost of everything that I thought I knew. A difficult youth had bred in me a desire to never be dependent or intimately tethered to another person but God had a very different plan for me. He intended that I be completely dependent upon Him and completely tethered to my new wife and daughter.
I had dreams of earning a college degree and using it to carve out a place for myself in the world where no one else was welcomed. Instead, the Lord chose that I be there faithfully to help my daughter with her elementary school assignments. He said no to the privacy and exclusivity that I was willing to labor tirelessly for and instead gave me a burgeoning family and a grueling work schedule that left me precious little time for isolation. It wasn’t a difficult task. It was an impossible task. There was no chance that I could’ve performed it in my own strength. My complete inability to accomplish the impossible drove me to Jesus and kept me there at His feet every moment of every hour of every day.
Hebrews 12:11 says that, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” I never earned that degree but my daughter earned hers and now she enjoys a level of success that neither her mother nor I could’ve imagined when we were her age. I never earned enough money to buy the kind of privacy that I had pined for for so long but my family now lives a life of freedom in Christ where they can continue to grow and excel without fear of failure. To trod in the footsteps of Jesus has cost me everything, but the substance of character, the fullness of life, the absolute certainty that everything has happened exactly as it was supposed to happen that I have been gifted with, have been worth infinitely more than anything I have sacrificed.