“But don’t begin until you count the cost ….”. Luke 14:28a (NLT)
Goals. Have you ever set a goal for yourself and then backed away from it? Maybe it was about running a race, or maybe it was about starting a new dietary regime, or maybe it was about developing a new habit or quitting an old one. You were excited when you started, but somewhere along the way it got more difficult than you realized it would. You failed to count the cost. You failed to count it accurately. I do it too sometimes.
Some goals do not have a very high cost. Others do. And usually the bigger goals — the higher goals — have a higher cost.
But the best things are worth it, aren’t they?
As I sit on the eve of one of the highest goals I have ever dreamed — one of the biggest assignments God has ever given me — I am soberly counting the cost. Extremely grateful to have the chance, but not wanting to arrive at midpoint, realizing that I failed to count the cost accurately. There are things I have to die to … and things I will have to carry … to do this journey well. Am I really willing? Really? For the long haul?
As a follower of Jesus, I look to Him as my example. He had the highest goal of all — to redeem and save mankind. He also paid the highest price. And for Him, it was worth it.
Am I willing? Yes.
Am I scared? Yes.
And having counted the cost to the best of my ability, I claim and cling to the truth of Philippians 4:13, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And so can you.
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7 (NLT)
Hard times are training opportunities. Think of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, taken to another country, imprisoned etc. (See Genesis 37 ff). What others intended for evil in his life, God used and intended for good. (Genesis 50:20) God used seemingly disastrous events to train, prepare, and place Joseph in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. We all know the story … but when it happens to us, we have the chance to learn it for real and anew.
Challenging times are the perfect time to become acutely aware of and to grow our dependence on Him. As one author says: “Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.” Challenging times forge our character. They also prepare the way to God to reveal His glory in greater ways.
So I’m in training (as are a few other sojourners with me). And I embrace it. I want to know deep dependence on God. I want to trust in Him alone to save me. I want to see His glory revealed in my life like I have never seen it before. And so I train — listening, watching, waiting, working, responding, obeying, trusting, and moving in faith.
The Lord is the strength of my life! Not anyone or anything else. The Lord God Almighty is my strength and my song! And with Him, I am victorious. No matter what.
Training ground is holy ground … when we have Him to train us!