I just graduated. My commencement ceremony was just this week. Mortar board, gown and everything. Life awaits!
I’ve been shortlisted for a job at a government ministry. This career path offers a good starting salary, with guaranteed progression. An iron rice bowl.
But, but, but …
Somehow I find myself considering the prospect of going into full-time ministry in Thir.st. In my heart of hearts, I feel a great peace when I show up for the day’s Kingdom work. I believe that this is a job I can do. I should do this work. I want to do this.
But, by the world’s standards, I’d be a fool to take this up: A salary that just can’t compare? How will I pay off my student loans? How will I provide for my wife in the future? How will I start a family? Buy a house?
These questions came up vehemently, building around me a furnace of fear, kindled by anxiety.
I had to examine my heart to see if money had become more important than God in my life. Searching for handles, I went to the Word:
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.“ (Matthew 19:20-22)
This was Jesus’ response to the rich young man who believed he had it all together. I don’t believe that Jesus was saying that to truly follow God, you have to sell off all your possessions, and move to some backwater slum in some foreign land to begin your ministry.
But what if that’s exactly what God wants? Could you take the plunge?
This is the heart of the matter: Money had become the young man’s god. I’m no rich man – I don’t have “great possessions” – yet the issue of money still loomed over my desire to serve the Kingdom.
Jesus knew what needed to be done on the cross; He counted the cost. Then, knowing what it would cost Him, He gave everything.
In the young man’s hesitance, Jesus didn’t cave and give him room to compromise: “You know what, okay lah, just sell your house.” “Fine, fine, you can keep all your stuff, just give me one year.”
Jesus doesn’t compromise. He didn’t just suffer for a little while, then chicken out before his crucifixion. He didn’t just heal a bunch of people over a Sabbatical year, only to go back to do his own carpentry thing after that. He knew what needed to be done; He counted the cost. Then, knowing what it would cost Him, He gave everything.
God’s all in. The same has to go for us.
We grew up climbing this mountain. From when we were young, we’ve always been chasing the next peak: PSLE, O-levels, A-levels, honours degree, a good girlfriend – the list goes on. We’ve been climbing all our lives. But what’s really at our summit? A well-paying job? Recognition in the marketplace? Financial wealth? The glory of God?
For many of us, the hope of finally landing this reward – that’s why we’ve been climbing the whole time. Coming down the mountain feels like failure, the death of a dream. It feels like I’d be abandoning everything I’ve ever trained for.
Now I am at a fork in the road. And both paths look like the Promised Land. One is the path I’ve always been on, the path the world commends, the path to that summit. But after climbing this high, it almost feels like I’m being pointed down the other path – for a life of war.
I don’t know if I’m ready.
But I know I can’t stay here. Soon, I’ll have to make a choice: Push for the summit, or go down His way.
Have you ever climbed a mountain? On volcanic mountains, the gravel gets more loose the higher you climb. So if you stand still in one spot long enough, you begin to sink downwards. In my heart, I know that if my life is not completely aligned to God’s will, then I’m standing in sinking sand.
I wrestle. It’s all about me; in truth, it’s been this way for far too long.
I argue and I reason. It’s not all about me. What about my future wife? What about my mum? Someone’s got to take care of them.
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27)
Even as Jesus hung on the cross, He thought of his earthly mother, and made sure her future was sorted out in a very practical way. But John? He never even questioned it. He didn’t offer any ifs, buts, hesitation, conditions:
But Lord, she’s not my real mother.
Lord, give me two more years to earn more money and then I will do this.
Lord this. Lord that.
John simply obeyed. And he obeyed immediately. I believe John could do so because he’d come to know in his heart that whatever command Jesus gave him was for his own good as well as Mary’s.
Our Father God desires good for us (Romans 8:28) when He tells us to do something. This is true even when the command given seems like it doesn’t make any sense.
If we truly believe that God knows best, then all that’s left to be done is to simply … obey.