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What Do You Need?

What do you absolutely need? What can you not live without? What do you take for granted? What have you become so comfortable living with, that you don’t even realize how precious and fleeting it really may be?

These are just a handful of the questions I have been asking myself as I prepare to leave for a month of training, and soon for a year on the other side of the globe.

Up until this point there are key passages of scripture that I never really understood in their fullness. There are passages that we tend to push away as not really pertaining to us, maybe they are meant for someone else. But in the face of leaving my wife and sons, they hit all too close to home…read Luke 14:

“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

There’s a passages most of us could do without. It is easy to come to Jesus seeking forgiveness, restoration, blessing and favor…but this passage is evidence that so much more is required of us than praying a simple prayer or volunteering when we have the time. I am realizing in a way that I never thought I would, how absolutely sacrificial the life of following Christ demands that we be, now there’s a message that not even seven verses of “Just as I Am” could undo.

I have three bags for a month. Four bags for a year. Same clothes, same boots. 50% of my meals were prepared and sealed over a year ago, and nothing is predictable. And for some strange reason, I both love it and hate it. There is a blessing of joy in sacrifice that cannot be understood through sermon or lecture, through reading or imagining. It must be lived. There is a pain of sacrifice that makes me cling closer to my God than any modern-day love-ballad worship set can ever emote or evoke. You cannot make a God moment happen. You can only choose to be prepared for them when they do happen. 

How many have been enticed to enter the kingdom, without ever being told the truth of the cost? We sell salvation on church-credit, and then use their volunteer service and tithe to pay the exorbitant interest that the institution has chosen to charge. Do we have actual followers of Christ or indentured servants to the church? There is a difference.

So as I pack my bags, and say my good-byes, trying to explain my impending absences to my 4-yr old son…I can only lean on scriptural references to bring meaning to my leaving. For my sons, my wife and myself. I have stumbled onto a path not of my own choosing, for God knows I would not choose this way. I realized in packing that though there are mission essential elements for physical protection, the only item I cannot do without, that I am absolutely dependent on in my life, is my God. I know what it is to be content with little or much, and that is a place where harmonious peace radiates strongly enough to drown out the noise of an unquiet and ill-content world. Wordsworth and Jesus put it eloquently:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

“What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world…and loses his Soul?”

What do you absolutely need? What can you not live without? What do you take for granted? What have you become so comfortable living with, that you don’t even realize how precious and fleeting it really may be…