The seed to live this life overseas was planted in my heart 20 years ago. Over the years God watered, grew and intensified the desire to know Christ and make Him known. In some ways you could say I am living my dream. I married a man who loves Jesus, His gospel and has a burning passion to see others deeply rooted in Him. We are doing together what we both longed to do separately.
Now just three years into living this life, I confess I see some cynicism in my heart. I am not as naïve anymore. The passion that burned in my young heart seems replaced by large doses of reality. At the edge of another move (the third in 3 years), I already feel bruised from unrelenting stress, uprooting, and the loneliness (among other things) one feels when you are not deeply known.
I have found myself both counting the cost of following Christ and counting my resources. Is this grief really worth it? Do I truly have what it takes to do this?
I remember Hudson Taylor said he never made a sacrifice, and I have moments when I feel quite the opposite. Then I get discouraged because I have not suffered anywhere near as much as he did. I hear the whisper: “You are not enough.”
How do I continue this journey with joy and faith? How do I encourage others to follow the Lamb wherever He goes? And to really count it as joy?
Counting The Cost
It has done my heart good to consider Jesus. No one paid a greater cost for obeying God than Him. But when he counted the cost, our King entrusted His Father to do one thing:
“My flesh will also dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2: 26-28).
Christ’s only hope was the resurrection. There was no other thing that sustained Him other than being raised by His Father from the dead. This blew me away because I had never thought about the hope of Jesus before. But when I started to study the Word from that perspective, I saw it everywhere.
This also struck me because when I thought about my own hope, I could think of many little hopes that sustained me day to day: none of them had to do with the resurrection. Christ on the other hand set his hope fully on the Resurrection.
As expats and sojourners, we are oppressed by lots of tangible circumstances –sickness in our home, opposition in ministry, culture shock, homesickness and all the things that come from living in exile. But sometimes what we can see with our physical eyes keeps us from seeing what is really real.
The Resurrection is helping me to see unseen realities that are far more real than anything else I can see, touch, hear or feel. It tells me the end of the story (1 Corinthians 15: 35-58). It declares who I am and who I will become. One day I will be like Christ when I see Him like He is (1 John 3:3). He will transform my broken body to be like His glorious body (Phil. 3: 20). Christ promises to never lose me, but to raise me up on the last day (John 6: 44, 54). The Day of Christ is coming. He will deliver me and I will walk in the Land of the Living (Psalm 116: 8-9).
Counting My Resources
What has been incredibly life- giving to me is to ground my hope not only in what happens after my physical death. Resurrection life has already dawned and is mine now as I have placed my faith in Christ. I died with Christ and now it is Him that lives in me (Gal. 2: 20).
Christ has united Himself to us and has given us everything that is His. As you and I experience the loss of all things for His sake we taste Jesus’ resurrection power. We have mind-blowing resources at our disposal to bear fruit out of proportion to our limitations because God’s immeasurable resurrection power is at work for us and in us (Eph. 1: 19- 20). It is this power that actually enables us to suffer.
We not only follow a Slain Lamb but the One who is the Resurrection, our Resurrection. We follow Him through suffering, death and into glory. That glory is just as certain as these bruises and these scars.
Dear friend, fueled by resurrection power, we can count both the cost and our resources and rejoice. So let’s take these “foolishness roads of grace and run toward the Dawn,” as The Gray Havens sing. Our hope is great and it is sure.
How does the truth about resurrection encourage your heart? In what ways are you living now that make sense only in light of the resurrection?