Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Prepared Can You Be?

Matthew 8:25-26
25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Do you know how many books I read about babies and parenting before I had kids?  Way too many!  How many of their inspiring thoughts and pithy anecdotal insights do I find myself leaning on each day as a parent to a 4 and 2 year old?  About zero.

Is it wrong to try to prepare then?  Of course not.

But your life, and your kids lives are going to be uniquely your own.  There is no formula that you can come up with that will solve every practical and existential crisis you will face.  There is only so much general thinking you can do to lay a helpful foundation for when the real poop hits the fan....and I mean that literally..... 

Just the other day my 2 year old cleared out the pool at our Florida resort by dropping some major floaters in it.  I didn't need to read a preparedness book to know that the best solution is to not make eye contact, run out, and let someone else "discover" it......

I don't feel bad about this....

In the passage preceding the "storm event" that we read about in Matthew 8 we see Jesus very explicitly explaining that being a follower of Christ is going to be a lot harder than you could have ever imagined.  Then, He gets on a boat, his main cadre of Disciples(Matthew, Shadrach, Mishack, etc....I think those ones) get on with Him.

While many of the looky loos might not be willing to follow Jesus when He threw down the gauntlet, these guys weren't afraid.  They could totally handle not having a place to sleep, and not burying their dads. 

But then something they hadn't thought about previously struck.

The storm came out of nowhere, it was violent, it caused the disciples to not just fear for their lives, but to suddenly second guess this whole "following Jesus" thing.  They say, "Don't you care that we are going to drown?!?!!?"  Then Jesus rebukes them.

Why are you so afraid??? 

Don't they get it.  Moments before they had just heard all about how hard it is to follow Jesus.  And now, it was getting really hard.  And they suddenly realized they were out of their depth.  This is not what they had prepared for.

A real popular phrase in the Christianese dictionary is "The Cost of Discipleship"(read out loud with booming baritone).  And it is an encouragement to get real serious about what it means, and will mean to follow Jesus.  There is nothing wrong with that statement.  One of my favorite books is actually called that. 

But here is the mistake we make.

We think that we can quantify and make solid pre-event analysis of what it will cost us.  So, we measure ourselves up against some generic stories we have heard or read and say, "I can totally do that.  I mean, my parents are already Christians, but if I had to let them kick me out for my conversion and disown me, I would totally be strong enough for it......"

So there are a list of ambiguous concepts that we put together in our head as we "count the cost".  We feel up to the challenge(of those ambiguous ideas) and dive in.

But then a storm hits. 

The cost of Discipleship is not about quantifying some specific set of circumstances that we can prepare ourselves for.  Like parenting, nothing prepares you for what it will really look like.  No one can tell you what is going to happen to you on the 5th Tuesday of your kids 3rd year of life.  What happens happens.  And you just have to be willing to face it.

One of my favorite TV series is "Band of Brothers".  There is a Lt(can't remember his name, I think it was Lt LT Smash) who has a reputation of being fearless.  In one scene he jumps over a protective barrier, runs right past an enemy tank, blows up some enemies, and runs right back to his original spot.  One of the other men asks him how he can be so brave.  He replies simply, "I have already accepted that I am dead, so what is there to be afraid of?"

To be a Disciple of Christ means to literally die to yourself.  Nothing in your life matters compared to the Richness of Knowing Christ.  When you have already accepted that it is not you who lives, but Christ who lives in you, it will radically change how you perceive the Cost of Discipleship.

It is not about the cost of this event or that event.  This scenario or that problem.  The cost was already paid.  You have given all, and received Christ in return.  So whether it is a storm, a heartache, a deep pain of life, or, a kid crapping in a pool.  You have already come to terms with it, it has no power to take anything more from you.

To pay the Cost means to no longer have anything that can be taken from you.  You have been given that which is imperishable, and permanent.  No matter the issue, your hope is eternal. 

Ready to get on the boat?

It was definitely poop.....

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