Count the Cost
In my quiet time last week I was reading Luke 14 when some words I’d written in the margin, who knows how far back, caught my attention. These words said, “Count the Cost.” As my eyes made their way down to the passage by where the words were written, I read,
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30
I have read this passage on several occasions. The context is about the cost of being a disciple. Obviously, if I’d written something out to the side of it — that means it caught my eye at a previous time. Yet, this time, I sat there and read and reread those verses several times. They frustrated me a little. They vexed me. I pulled out my journal and wrote out this prayer in response,
“Jesus, I don’t know if I ever could have imagined the cost. Maybe I was foolish in the beginning, but I don’t know how I could ever have possibly imagined the cost of following you, of standing firm to the end. I am honestly thankful for that. Every day is a new opportunity to trust and surrender, and yet, every day I don’t know what the day holds. Perhaps counting the cost means I am giving up my rights, my agendas, and my will— to take up and carry yours. Maybe counting the cost is recognizing it won’t be easy but doing it anyway. Maybe counting the cost is knowing in the end we will always have the measure of grace we need. Maybe counting the cost is being ok with things not turning out how we think they should and being completely outside our control. I have never had enough to complete what you’ve given me — outside of you…”
I was trying to sort it out while I prayed it through. I wondered, how can we count the cost of being a disciple if we don’t know the full price we’ll be asked to pay for the journey God has for us? How can we count the cost if we don’t know every step of how our journey is going to unfold?
I talked it over with friends and with my amazingly wise and handsome husband. Where I have landed on this is that the cost is full surrender. It’s laying down what God tells us to lay down and picking up what he tells us to pick up. It’s being willing to stay when it’d be easier to go and go when it’d be easier to stay, depending on which way he’s leading us. It’s laying down our will for his and in so doing, knowing that we will share in his joys just as we will share in his sufferings.
The cost is everything. It’s our cross to carry just as it says in the preceding verse, Luke 14:27,
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Carrying our cross means being willing to lay down our lives for what Christ calls us to. It means laying down our lives to love the way he loved and live the way he lived. It means dying to self and living for him. It means walking in the spirit and denying our flesh.
I’m glad I don’t know day to day what that looks like. It’s enough for me to know his grace is sufficient and his power made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). And — I know the cost I’d have to pay for walking outside of his will would be so much higher, so much less joyful and fulfilling, than the cost of laying everything down to pick up my cross and follow him.
Let’s pray: Father God, thank you for your guidance in my life. Thank you for Jesus, who laid down his life, paying the ultimate price for our sins. Thank you for his example of what it means to count the cost and surrender and see your will through to the end. Thank you for the beautiful resurrection and the reminder that brings to us that nothing is over until you say it’s over and the final victory rests in your hands. Thank you for resurrection life in us – that when moments of hardship come we can trust you will work them out for good and restore what’s been lost, stolen, or made to feel lifeless inside of us. I pray for anyone today who’s struggling with making a decision between following you and going their own way, to stay in a posture of surrendered trust, yielding their will to yours. Thank you that no matter the cost of following you, you are enough to sustain us. We love you, Lord. In Jesus name, amen.
Question for reflection: What does counting the cost mean to you?