Every major life decision has a cost. Some we understand from the beginning…When you choose to be a parent, for example, you know there will be real sacrifices along the way–from dealing with stinky diapers to paying for college. With your eyes wide open, you– responsible parents who have chosen to raise children– will set your wants aside in favor of your children’s needs. Then through the years, though still more sacrifices are needed, one day you realize that you’d give it all up again–your time, resources, sleep, freedom, and yes, even the best/last piece of dessert– for the benefit of your “babies”, no matter how old they get. 🙂
The cost of other major life decisions may catch us unawares, however. When I became a Christ follower in my early 30’s, I knew about some sacrifices that would come with this choice, but I hadn’t a clue about the the real cost of being a Christian in today’s world. Naively I thought that my new religion meant I would have to give up the theatre, change all of my political opinions, and start dressing uber-conservatively. As it turned out, none of those things were true. See, I didn’t settle for being a Christian in name and blindly follow some prescribed religious code of behavior- actually that’s just legalism. I wanted to KNOW this Jesus, and our relationship has become the central one of my life. Have I made some lifestyle sacrifices since becoming a Christ follower? Absolutely– but not because I was required to do so. I’ve made changes in my life because once I understood more about who God is, and how He loves me, my thinking has changed, and thus, my actions have changed.
Some costs I correctly expected to see include things like: being marginalized in our society by those who assume all Christians are a bunch of ignorant, judgmental, right-wing, wack-o-doodles. Sadly there are isolated pockets of sign waving, book burning loonies that do the rest of us no favors… I also have to admit, though I expected trials and opposition, (God’s Word promises His followers this) I have still been surprised by the keeping-me-at-distance of now wary, former close friends and family members.
Then there are the costs I never saw coming… spiritual warfare that increases in intensity the closer we follow Christ, conviction that keeps us humble by compelling us to admit our failures and brokenness, and certain activities that we’re asked to give up because they trigger us. Understand, our loving Heavenly Father isn’t out to punish us, or force us into a drab existence. Rather He knows what damages us, individually, and it is out of His love for us that we come to experience the desire to let these things go.
In my case, I’m very visual, and during my personal journey, I’ve been learning where I have to turn off the TV, or avoid movies that aren’t good for me. I’m not saying these are bad– just that for ME, I can’t watch them without having disturbing thoughts and nightmares. Then recently, I started having similar reactions to a current piece of fiction that is just “too dark” for me to handle. I confess I was bummed at first. I’ve always loved to read; the idea that some of it will now be off limits is a real sacrifice. But I wouldn’t trade a thing; the blessings of this major life decision have far outweighed the costs! Where I have developed a sensitivity to the darkness around me, I am also more aware of His Presence and His Light!!
How about you? Are your choices worth the cost?