I was about 19 years old, sitting in chapel at Cedarville University. In my hand I had this card that read “Anytime, Anywhere, at any cost, to do Anything” and on the bottom there was a line for me to sign my name. The speaker was challenging us to make this commitment to God and all I could think was, “Are you out of your mind? I can’t do that! You are talking about the God of the universe who could make me do anything! I’m not interested.”
As I sat there, I actually started to panic. How could I have been a “follower” of Jesus since I was three years old and yet still not be able to make a commitment like this? I then realized that it was my absolute faith in God’s existence and the truth of His Word that made me terrified to make such a promise. It would be easier if I didn’t really believe God was the same God that I read about in the Bible, then I could just sign my name at the bottom. No big deal. It’s just a piece of paper, right? But I knew better.
I’ve read about the prophet Jeremiah who was sold out to God’s cause and yet lived a lonely existence where literally everyone hated him. In his own writings he writes how he wished that he had never been born. What kind of life is that? Or, what about Jonah who was supposed to be doing the work of God, yet he didn’t even have the freedom to say “no” when he didn’t like the task set before him. God simply threatened his life with a fierce storm, then swallowed him up in a big fish, made him rot in it for three days, and then had him vomited out at the destination of God’s choosing. Yay. Sounds like fun. I can’t wait to be cornered and hemmed in by God and then forced to say whatever it is He wants me to say.
But what if I don’t want to say what God wants me to say? Will I feel like Jeremiah when he says, “So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:8-9)
Oh, and lest we forget poor Hosea, who was told by God to marry a harlot and then had to bear the agony of all of her indiscretions. What in the world? I can’t even handle having a dream about my husband being interested in some other woman.
“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2)
Being a committed servant of the most high God is not something to be taken lightly. It might even cost you your life, like it did for John the Baptist who was beheaded, Stephen who was stoned to death, and many more who lost their lives simply for the words they spoke and for the God they served.
As I sat there in the pew, I deeply and honestly considered, “Do I love God enough to do that? Could I be obedient even to death?”
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)
Jesus led a life that was the ultimate example of obedience and he paid the ultimate price for it. Because of Jesus’ great love for the Father, he was willing to do anything asked of him, even though the journey was agonizing and he longed for another way.
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus struggled with being a sacrifice, even though that was his whole purpose here on earth. As I sat and thought about all that he did for me, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for Jesus’ obedience. I believed that his loving obedience to the Father was much stronger than even his love for me. If He had not been obedient, we would still be lost with out any hope. And yet now, somehow, our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice as a spotless lamb, has brought us salvation from an eternity of destruction. Wow, now that’s the power of obedience.
So, after a long time of deliberation, I finally signed the stupid card … knowing full well it might cost me everything someday.