“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)
Counting the cost means considering the impact of something on things like our time, money, conveniences, or even our reputation. To live a life for Christ demands the sum of these. It is the myriad of our material possessions, emotional comforts, and physical well-being tossed onto the proverbial table. In our Scripture above, his analogy of building a tower is simple. Christ is not demanding anything of us. He simply instructs us to take inventory of what a life of service and discipleship will require, to ensure we can finish the job.
Imagine a road. Imagine its long and winding path, sheltered and encased by the branches of majestic trees, whose roots are deep with life. You are ready. Your eye is on the finish. With each step along the narrow path you are drawn more forward by the longing in your spirit for the Greatness you know lies ahead at your destination. Along the way, you pick up weary travelers, lifeless in spirit. You tell them of this Greatness – that which can breathe life into them again, heal their wounds, and satisfy any hunger. More and more follow. You assure them that where you are going, there is plenty of room for all (John 14:2).
The journey is long and the bottoms of your shoes become worn. The night falls steadily, along with the hope that sparked your first steps. Your pace ceases as you find yourself staring dejectedly at the unexpected mountain before you. There is no way around this mountain – only over it. To take such a journey of strength will require a lightened load and the use of your hands for climbing. This would mean abandoning all possessions for the sake of the climb. Disillusionment creeps in as you are taunted by your own ill-preparedness. Fear tells you to turn around. In that moment, you are faced with a choice that will impact not only your own life, but the lives of so many others.
In your weakness and fear, you turn. When you do, you are face to face with all the weary travelers who are following you, uncertain of why you stopped. As you pass through the sea of searching faces, your actions of retreat make words unnecessary. The travelers who were once filled with hope are now standing in silence, gazing back and forth between their retreating leader and the mountain before them. The cloaks of dejectedness and disillusionment are passed through the crowd as the vision of Greatness you spoke of fades with every step backwards you take. For many, hurt turns to anger and bitterness for leading them so far for nothing. They leave the path, never to return (2 Peter 2:21). Others ridicule you. For others, they continue to follow you, turning back to the place that took the life within them and made them weary in the first place.
But there is one. There is one who remains staring at the mountain. He takes his time to think about the journey and all it will require. When weighed against the reward of the Greatness that waits on the other side, there is no hesitation in his spirit (Isaiah 6:8). He gathers those who are still found motionless in the confusion and calls out to those who have already turned around to see if any will follow with him. They leave any unnecessary thing and, together, begin the climb.
Which one are you? Will you begin your journey unprepared and, once confronted with the cost, abandon the beliefs which ignited you, even at the expense of the lives following you? Perhaps you have mapped your way and counted the cost, ready to sacrifice all you have. What are you willing to give up for Jesus? What are you willing to lay down for the sake of His Kingdom and the sake of His lost beloveds?
I beg you, Dear One, to decide now. Time is of the essence, and there is much work to be done. The path may be long and the mountains high, but the Glory of His Greatness will rest your feet on level plains. I pray as you someday pass over the mountain ridge into the light of heaven, you will do so having led so many others by a flame unquenched. Although there can be much to give, Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:25, if we lose our life for His sake, we will find it.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)