Who is the more ready to move on, the person who says “I will go” but is preparing to stay, or the person who is staying, but preparing to go?
As I consider my experiences with moving from place to place, what is in my heart is what counts. It is easy to announce plans, but getting excited about moving is difficult and the actual task of moving is even more difficult. What makes the difference is having your heart in it.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57–62)
Many years ago we attended a church that sent teams to share the gospel to those who visited our Sunday service for the first time. I was on one of those teams. One night, the door of the home we visited was opened by a girl of about fifteen. She invited us in and we shared the good news with her. She was quick to say she wanted to become a Christian. However, the two other team members who were far more experienced than I began to talk her out of it. She was just as quick to change her mind.
I was dumbfounded. They later told me that they sensed she was a compliant teen, eager to please adults. If she had really wanted to give her life to Christ, no one or nothing would be able to change her mind. They wanted to make sure her heart was in it.
Jesus knows the heart. Because Christians have the mind of Christ, we sometimes know the heart also, In what Jesus said, and as in the situation I witnessed, my first reaction was dismay. How could my team mates let that girl go? How could Jesus let these prospects walk away?
Jesus is not interested in recruiting those eager to go but preparing to stay. He wants His disciples to hold loosely to our plans, our schedule. This does not mean I cannot make plans, but it does mean that my ears are tuned to hear Him should He want me to do something else.
The above verses show that I’m not to offer myself to Jesus because it looks like a good idea. Being a disciple can include homelessness, abandoning normal loyalties, and putting comfort and the familiar behind me. It can mean leaving without saying goodbye. Jesus wants His people to know and consider what they are getting into.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)
Most of us come into the kingdom seeing the marvel of freedom from sin and guilt and the glory of knowing Jesus Christ. After a time, there is the realization that serving the Lord God also means letting go of everything else. The Bible says that at that point, many turned back. I don’t ever want to be one of them.