As we are preparing our lesson for VBS, we decided to do an activity that requires several volunteers. Just like in any children’s activity, the question is asked, “Can I have a volunteer?” The result is usually nearly every child raising his or her hand, anxious to take part in whatever it is that the teacher has for them.
Thinking back to my childhood, however, I remember that I was the child who never raised her hand. I hated the idea of the unknown. What if the teacher asked me to do something embarrassing? Or what if she asked me to do something that I didn’t know how to do or something that I wasn’t prepared for? How could I possibly say, “Pick me!” before knowing what my assignment was?
I remember it being ten times worse when the teacher would notice that I was the only one not raising my hand and would pick me for that very reason. I know it was done in an effort to include me, but for goodness sake, I wasn’t sitting on my hands because I had no idea what was going on. I was being very intentional in saying, “Don’t pick me!’ I knew exactly what I was doing. Watch me run and hide in a hole in the ground.
As I notice my tendency to desire a full report of my task before I commit to do it, I realize that Jesus was very clear about what serving Him could require. Speaking of the end times, Jesus said, “You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers…Even those closest to you – your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends – will betray you. They will even kill some of you. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers (Luke 21:12, 16-17).” For many, it is the nomadic life: “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head (Luke 9:58).” Attractive lifestyle, huh? Makes me want to raise my hand and say, “Pick me!”
Even though I was the child in the back sitting on her hands, He saw me. He did not, however, choose me against my will. He chased me down to show me how deep His desire was for me to be a part of His grand redemption plan. He sent His Son to die for me to show His desperation for my role in the story. However, by my own decision, I committed to serve Christ. It was a decision that I made the day I heard His voice say, “Can I have a volunteer? Who will go for Me?” No one knows for sure what the future holds, and each individual story is different. However, we do not walk into the Christian life completely blind to the hardships that we might go through. Jesus said plainly many times and in may different ways that the cost of being a disciple is everything. He also talked about the wisdom of evaluating the cost before deciding: “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (Luke 14:26-28)”
The cost is great, indeed. However, it is also worth it. Matthew 13:44-46 says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
So what about the concern that I won’t be able to do the task that is allotted to me? What if I am asked to give something that I cannot give? In the same passage where Jesus discusses the persecutions that we could endure, He interrupts Himself with these words, “But this will be your opportunity to tell them about Me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! (Luke 21:13-15)”
The life lived serving Christ is the abundant life. It is the only true freedom. Not a day goes by when God does not lavish His love on me in a way that astounds me and leaves me in wonder. Every day holds a new adventure and a new miracle. The greatest miracle of all, however, is seeing how God took a scared and bashful little girl who wouldn’t even raise her hand in VBS for anything and made her a missionary in a foreign culture, standing in front of people and doing new and challenging things every day…and the story doesn’t stop there. His plans for me go so much farther. This is only the beginning! And you know what? I am actually excited about the unknown, because I know that it leaves room for anything to happen. God could change the world through me, and a vast set of onlookers will see what He did with that scared little girl and give Him all the glory.
Somewhere down the line, I may have to give my life. I may have to sacrifice my body. I may have to sacrifice my reputation. I may be called in front of people to do something that I do not want to do, demonstrating for the world that I love Christ more than I love my dignity. And what must my answer be? “Yes, Lord. Whatever the cost, I will serve You. Wherever I must go, whatever or whoever I must lose, I choose You. You are worth it. What I have in You is worth whatever I have to let go of. You are the pearl of great value that I sell everything I have to obtain. I love You more than anything, and I will follow You though it may cost me everything.”
Jesus is asking you the same question today, offering you an abundant and eternal life. It is worth any cost, and it is true that the cost is great. He is asking the question, “Can I have a volunteer?” What will be your response? Don’t be the child in the back, sitting on her hands. Go for it. Jump in the deep end and discover the adventure of a lifetime. Discover what it means to live for something worth dying for. Sell everything you have and buy that field. He is calling you today.