Yesterday, my aunt and uncle, who are missionaries to Romania, gathered with several of us family members at my grandmother’s house. We gathered to celebrate my Aunt’s birthday. It was a rare but very much enjoyed moment. Gatherings like that are, for us, few and far between. Our family is scattered seed, purposefully planted by the hand of God in various regions of the world.
Though my immediate family gathers quite consistently, we have, for the most part, settled with the reality that it may not always be that way. We are committed to going anywhere the Lord might lead for the sake of the gospel.
In fact, I remember saying good-bye to my grandparents when I was only 7 years old. After a wonderful season of them having lived with us, my grandparents, in an unexpected season of life, saw an opportunity to get the gospel into Russia. The night before they flew out of the country, my parents and my siblings spent time talking with them. I remember the entire family crying together. It was heartbreaking.
Yet, even then, we knew why it had to be done.
Now back in the States, my grandparents still pastor here in Southern California, as do my parents.
So we gathered on Sunday evening. I stood at my grandmother’s house until about 11pm, talking about politics, old family stories and the Lord’s agenda for the nations.
But that got me thinking about the price of ministry. We often hear of God’s blessings, and I believe in God’s blessings – the ones that make us smile.
But we’ve also been blessed with a cross. We have the honor of sacrificial response. (And I use “sacrificial” hesitantly, for the reality is that we end up being blessed anyway, so there really is no such thing as sacrifice for us – we always come up with more than we put in.)
We all have a cross to bear for the sake of the Kingdom.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” - Matthew 16:24
Notice that Jesus says this to his disciples. He doesn’t say this to admirers, listeners or fans. He says it to those who are committed to doing what He does.
To be saved, you just need faith. However, to be a disciple, it takes the rest of what you have.
The cross is a place of death. When following Christ, when doing His work, there will be things in your life that have to die. But that’s where the real power is found – in the surrendered life.
We must graduate from elementary faith, and we must pick up the cross. Not everything will be easy. Christ never promised easy. If you want to be used of God, then you must die daily, surrender all and commit totally to His purposes. My encouragement to you today: pick up your cross!