“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33, NKJV)
There are many memories from my growing up on Hill Street in the Northwest portion of Oklahoma City.
As young boys, my two brothers and I played the wonderful game of baseball. I still to this day have a love for the game.
When playing a game or having practice, we always knew when it was time to leave for Midweek Bible Study … always! There was no voice from outside the baseline calling us by name or phrase signaling it was time to leave.
It was much more subtle. Mother would simply stand up … fold her lawn chair made with multi-color webbing … and start walking to our little car. We knew … our coaches knew … our fellow players knew … no debate … no arguing … no pouting … just picking up our gloves and heading to the car. She had prepared and was resolved.
Many a Wednesday evening one or all three of us would walk into our respective Bible Classes in our often dirty uniforms. It was a big deal because we were learning from our Mother … God came first! Nothing else!
When I was 15 years old, my mother managed to convince the neighbor down the street to give me a job with J.C. Penney at the downtown store during the summer. The caveat was her request that I not be scheduled to work on Wednesday evening! Her request was granted.
Later, as progress unfolded, that store would close. Having worked through the summer and into the school year, I was to be transferred to the new Penney’s store in the first mall in Oklahoma City. What a wonderful opportunity … and it was closer to home.
I was 16 when I received word that they wanted me to work on Wednesday evenings and, with the Blue Law being repealed, Sunday afternoons/evenings as well. It was now my time to exercise my faith and take my stand … and I did!
Informing the HR director that I had never had to do that while in their employment, I was told things had changed! I was just sure that my time at Penney’s was coming to a swift end.
But the manager met me when I came back downstairs. He knew my work ethic … he understood what had just taken place … and he placed his hand on my shoulder giving me the assurance things would not be changing.
You see … he appreciated my loyalty … not just to the Company … but also to the Lord. God came first! Nothing else!
Did I enjoy playing baseball? Absolutely! Did I need the money to work? Absolutely! I was helping my Mother out with what I could contribute.
I know we’ve all got stories … but there are lessons here for each of us to reflect on.
Can you even imagine being asked to forsake all that you have? What could be worth that? Have you ever considered what that would be like? Read Luke 14:16-33. Jesus helps us understand true discipleship …
- A man prepared a great supper, no doubt at great expense, and invited many to come. When all was ready, those invited did not show up. Rather, they sent feeble excuses for their refusals to come at the appointed time.
- A man built a tower but was mocked when it stood unfinished because he had failed to take into account the entire cost of his project.
- A king who would go to war against another king without considering which one had the most soldiers and the greatest possibility of winning.
At some point in time, we must each decide who or what is going to be the most important objective, goal, person, or whatever else you want to plug into the equation.
If it is not submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ … we will be sadly disappointed both in this life and in the life to come in eternity. (1 John 2:15-17)
It is not enough to haphazardly make the right choice about who we are going to serve! We must act on our choice by accepting His grace, mercy, and His offer of forgiveness of our sins through obedience to His will. (See Hebrews 5:8-9)
Each one of us is the sum total of … we are the product of the decisions we make in this short life. Our free will offers us both blessing and cursing.
Learning to make the right choice started early for me and my siblings. Did we always do like we had been taught? Nope! Were we sorry and disappointed in ourselves when we acted improperly? Absolutely!
The most important consideration was exemplified to us in a very clear and valuable way with a simple lawn chair being folded up.
Life is so short, my friends, and we need to be as the Apostle Paul expressed with these inspired words, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV)
It is “the heavenly prize” … “the prize of the upward call of God” … that each and every one of us must be focused on … not anything this world has to offer!
May God give each of us the resolve to make the right choice … to exemplify that to others … and if we make the wrong choice … may we have the faith and the courage to seek forgiveness.
Bill Fairchild, Jr.