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I need to admit that I am not gladly writing this new blog article. Nonetheless, it seems to be a recurring lesson in our life (with God) that we need to let go of so many things. In fact, we are not only to let go of ‘things’, but also of good or bad people, of opinions once dearly held, of our good old habits, of our bodily constitution, of what we ourselves would have called good health etc. I put ‘with God’ in parentheses as I think that all mankind has to go through similar trials whether they believe in God or not. However, if we see ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ, is there a particular reward, a blessing of sorts if we have become (partly) acquainted with grief and sorrow as our Lord had been?Β  πŸ™„

As the crowds had seen that Jesus performed many miracles in front of their eyes and would preach with a divine authority that was unknown to them before, they followed him wherever he went. However, instead of letting the crowd make Him their earthly king, our Lord described the sacrifices we will have to make in order to not lose track of Him who walks an unseen spiritual path before and with us.

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 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?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, β€˜This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33 ESV)

Drinking a cup of healthy tea, I had just been reading T. Austin Sparks’ devotional from tomorrow where he would refer to Luke chapter 14 verse 33. I did not really like what I read, yet I had to acknowledge that what he said was true. There are, indeed, times of comfort, joy, and peace where God lifts us up from the dust of our everyday struggles. But there are also often these times of suffering where we, patiently or not, are waiting until we experience His resurrection power once again. We are longing to taste the blessing of heaven here on earth with our own spirits, knowing that only after another part of our flesh has been crucified, it will happen. Alas, always only afterwards.Β  😦 T.A. Sparks raised an interesting question. He asked,

“Why cannot God increase? Why is it that in the first few years of the church’s history there was such a going on and on and on in life, ever and on in life, and growing, growing, growing? Just think of all that happened in the short life of Paul alone; the churches over the whole then-known world in one short life – and nearly two thousand years since, and the world is not yet touched with the gospel. The contrast is terrible, but why? Why? And the answer is clearly and definitely this: that somehow or other man has come into this business of God and turned it to himself. The Cross has not been kept in its place to give God a clear, full, free way.”

“It is a lesson that you and I have to learn very deeply in our own lives, that nothing is given increase except on the ground that it is deeply marked by the Cross as to our own flesh and natural life. Everything has to carry with it the sign of, on the one hand, death to the principle of Self, and on the other hand, Life in the realm where it is only of God and all of the Lord. That is in each individual Christian life for life and increase; that a local assembly has got to be marked in this way; it has to be a crucified (and thoroughly crucified) company of the Lord’s people so far as any personal ambitions and interests are concerned. It is just like that. This is the way of Christ so clearly in His own case: the way of the Cross.” (1)

May it be so with us. Amen.

(1) https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002848.html

All images Β© Susanne Schuberth 2021