It's been over a year now since I took one of the biggest leaps of faith that I have ever taken in my life. Almost 14 months ago, I was at the top of a very successful career in IT. I had started as a know-nothing help desk tech back in 1995 and spent the next 22+ years building my professional life, ending as the systems and network administrator for a genetics company near Boston. Not too bad for a guy who never went to college for computer work! Well, that's not entirely true. I went 1 year to college but spent the year partying and skipping most of my classes, so that doesn't count. My point is that I had worked very hard to build this career, was making a GREAT salary, and figured I would retire from it.
Then Jesus called…and this is what He said. – "It's time to leave this behind."
See, back in 2013 my wife and I felt called to plant a small church in Webster, MA. We did, and I had been leading that church and working my IT job. I thought that was how it was going to be forever. I mean, that makes sense right? After all, everyone kept telling me about Paul being a tent maker to support himself. So why, after 3 1/2 years with this set up working perfectly was Jesus calling me to leave my 22 year IT career with the big salary and freedom to do ministry behind? It didn't make sense to me. But I said, "Yes Lord, lead on!"
Wait…no, that's not what I said at all.
I did leave my job near Boston, but immediately took a different job in IT, closer to home. I mean, why would God call me to walk away from that career when I had bills to pay, a wife with medical issues that needed good insurance and a small church that could not pay a pastor anything? So I took a new job with a $10,000 a year pay cut. I was thinking that God would be pleased with MY plan for HIS calling on my life AND a huge sacrifice in pay. Well, that lasted an entire week before the Holy Spirit was literally keeping me awake all night with the gnawing call of God telling me "No, leave it ALL behind and follow me". So this new job I had started on a Monday, I left the following Friday. I still had bills, I still had a wife that needed medical care, I still had a mortgage payment…but I also had the voice of Jesus calling me to trust Him. Well, He is faithful. Even though I now make less than 1/8th of what I made in IT God has, as he promises in His Word, provided for every need as we follow Him in this ministry.
Now most of you who know me know this story already, so I hope you hung in there during the rehash. My point is this. Is Jesus calling you to follow Him on a path that makes you nervous? Is He calling you to a walk that will involve sacrifice to the level that just the thought of it makes you say "There is no way we could live like that. That would be impossible". I know that feeling. My wife and I had MANY conversations like that. Following this calling meant no more vacations in Vermont resorts. No more upgrades to our cell phones, no more new cars or gadgets just because we wanted them, no more impromptu lunches at the steak house that cost $80, and many other things. Not that those things are bad, they are not at all. As I write this, I think of a couple I read about that sold everything they had and got on a plane to China with their very young children and set out with nothing but faith to help orphans in that country. No organization waiting there with a place for them to live, no one to teach them the language, no short term trips before hand to get things ready, no exit plan should it all go south. Just a call from Jesus that said "Go". I see that and think "There is no way I could do that." But the reality is, if Jesus called me to, I could. You could too. It's scary and it involves a supernatural faith, but you could do it. I never thought my wife and I could live like we do now, but now that we do, I would never want it any other way. Don't get me wrong, we have had to make some hard financial decisions over this last year and a half that have literally cost us everything we have built up until now. Things that have caused people (even fellow Christians) to shake their heads at us based on what the world says is success and responsibility. But we go back to the call of Jesus to his disciples. Matthew 4:19-20 – And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Wait, wasn't that so irresponsible of them to just walk away from their jobs? Didn't they have responsibilities? What about the ones who didn't follow? Now they are stuck doing all the work! What about all those counting on them to bring in fish? What about the ones who had paid up front for fish they were not going to get now? That doesn't sound very 'Christian' to me. Well, all I can say is Jesus said "follow me", and when he does, the only answer is to drop it all and follow him. Yes, there are still days I think "I have got to be nuts. Did I actually make the right decision?". But the Holy Spirit is always there with some kind of reminder that no, I am not nuts, and yes I did make the right decision.
Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."Where should our treasure be as Christians? It should be in loving God and leading others to Jesus. Good jobs, cars, vacations, houses, those are all good things, and often they can be blessings from God. But here is the question we all need to address between us and God. How much of my time, effort and resources are used in getting and keeping all that as compared to time, effort and resources in reaching the lost for Jesus? I can't answer that for you, and there is no correct percentage as far as I know. What I do know is that it is a heart issue. Do we crave and desire comfort and ease over taking up our cross and truly following Him? Again, that's something only we as individuals can answer.
I didn't write this to say "you should all do the same things we did", or to make anyone feel guilty or anything like that. I just want us as Christians to examine ourselves and our motives (2 Corinthians 13:5). I believe the return of Christ is near, and the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Luke 10:2). Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where your treasure truly lies. Our little town alone has about 17,000 people. How many of those need to hear the gospel? How many opportunities do we miss in sharing the truth with them because we are way to busy in maintaining our lifestyle? How will our kids know how to be soul-winners if they don't see us doing it? Please hear me right. There is NOTHING inherently wrong with having a nice lifestyle! There is NO sin in that. I just want us to understand that as Christians, the main goal of everything we do, buy, read, watch, talk about, etc. should be for the glory of God and to further His kingdom.
And I guess in the end, everything I just wrote about is really no sacrifice at all. We have been chosen by a King to carry out His amazing message. It's a privilege! Like David Livingstone once wrote;
"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
Something to think about.