A few weeks back, a man spoke at our church. He was from a very poor area of the world, and his story was moving.
So why wasn’t I moved?
The short version: He grew up in a broken home, never knowing his biological dad. He was raised by his grandmother because his mom could not afford to raise him. He grew up angry at his father. He felt he had no hope, turned to drug use, and was working in a factory as a teenager. He ended up living with his father, but the relationship was very volatile. But then one day, while hanging out with friends drinking, someone invited him to church. And that began a change in him that has continued to this day. He ended up working as a janitor for the church, and then got the opportunity to attend high school, then college, and that led to him receiving a decent job that led to an even better job and a promotion and a better job yet. Today he is a husband and father and owns his own house, his own vehicle. It is a remarkable story of transformation – a true rags to riches story. And he credits his relationship with Christ as the reason for it all.
So why did I walk away that morning feeling a bit empty, cheated, by this remarkable story? Why am I still troubled?
Over the past month or so, I’ve had something new take place in my life. A medical problem that I couldn’t overcome with rest, exercise, and a healthy diet. My interaction with doctors, for my adult life, has been relegated to annual physicals and very occasional need for something stronger than over-the-counter meds to counteract an infection. But now I’m facing something that requires the expertise of not one, but two medical specialists. And my biggest concern in it all? Not my health.
How much will all these tests and procedures and medicines cost me? My personal journaling began centering not around asking God to heal me – no! My time with God became a monologue regarding the negative financial impact this medical issue has on me and my family, and how I need Him to come through for us.
As if He ever hasn’t.
But then God began doing a work on me – exposing the heart of the issue to me. I am called to a life of faith. And that call gives me NO guarantees of financial fortune or even physical safety. But isn’t that almost an assumption? If you get right down to it, isn’t there a real expectation, especially in the western world but in other areas as well, that Christianity is really salvation from suffering? Look at all the good works being done around the world in the name of Christ. Aren’t they, for the most part, an attempt to bring people up from a low standard of living to something a little better, or maybe a lot better? Not that I would decry Christians who are paying for (monetarily and through sweat equity) others to have uncontaminated drinking water or a clean, safe place to lay their head at night. But is that what Christ really calls us to – calls us for?
“Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head”.
These are the very words of Jesus – recorded in the book of Matthew and again in Luke. The cost of discipleship is high. And who am I to expect that Christ has saved me from hardship or poverty or financial failure? Hasn’t He, in fact, saved me from much worse, and to much greater?
My prayer life is turning. It’s scary for me – like
walking on water scary walking on thin air with no parachute scary. Not able to see where my next step will land, yet walking forward confidently.
My heart is to be faithful rather than fearful. Oh, God make it so!
“I believe; help my unbelief!”