Jesus said quite clearly, “Count the cost.”
Believe me—those are words I now hold very sacred.
When Jesus says to you, “Follow me.” He is not asking you to live in a hothouse full of roses. He is calling you to your own cross.
And, your “cross” is not a pretty piece of jewelry around your neck. It is an instrument of torture, suffering, and death. Your cross is a place where Self, with its hopes, aspirations, and dreams are annihilated.
We in the Church throw the word cross around as casually as grace sometimes. But we do people a great disservice if we portray following Christ as only a “joy ride” without the expectation to also wholeheartedly embrace suffering.
The Apostle Paul wrote,”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20]
Ponder those words.
If you believe them, you may be choosing to live them out, literally.
Count the cost—because there will be a cost.
His word guarantees it.
And still… I ASKED to be made a woundresser.
Crazy? Probably. Am I sorry? Some days yes; most days—no. And that’s just being honest with you.
I now know to become a woundresser involves a costly education.
One I do not recommend for the faint of heart.
BACK IN “THE FOLD” — MY EDUCATION CONTINUES
As if my past is not enough of a resume, Jesus decides my education needs expanding.
There were more dark storms waiting for me on my horizon; baffling and incomprehensible storms. Storms that shook everything I trusted and believed.
“… everything that could be shaken, would be shaken so that that which could not be shaken would remain.” [Heb. 12:27 my paraphrase]
I share these details not to look for your sympathy; not to say, “Oh, poor me.” but rather, “Yeah, me too!”
- I have been through two major health crashes.
- The first one brought me to the edge of death.
- I became pregnant at eighteen only to have my twin babies die in utero.
- Being young, painfully ignorant, and unaware of what happened, I walked around with these dead babies inside.
- Needless to say, I became extremely ill and almost died. But that wasn’t the worst. Not the pain, or the blood, or even the resulting hysterectomy at eighteen. That hysterectomy was devastating. But the grief and pain that got buried under a huge secret was worse.
- I was told “a tumor had been removed” and my medical records were then sealed.
- For over forty years there were memories of events I couldn’t explain. Questions that went unanswered. And grief that had been buried alive. It was the weirdest sensation, being haunted by “feelings” that made no sense.
- Then there was the ultimate realization that most of your adult life has been based on a lie.
- My second medical crisis, a misdiagnosed thyroid crash, left me helpless, hopeless, and jobless.
- There were astronomical medical bills I couldn’t pay, putting me into a medical bankruptcy and wiping out my credit.
- I have been homeless—twice. Though not “on the street” I have slept on floors, in some very filthy and unsafe places.
- I spent twelve years building a business, only to hand it off to an unscrupulous business partner who decided he wanted it ALL. I walked away with nothing, believing what the bible says, that fighting in a courtroom is wrong and about as unchristian as it gets.
- I have been through what I call “a Church holocaust” where I was shunned, though I was never charged with any offense. Overnight I was an untouchable outcast. No one was allowed to speak to me or have any contact with me.
- You have to go through the horror of shunning to understand that kind of painful rejection. You are emotionally stoned and left for dead.
- The official diagnosis was: “One of the worst cases of spiritual abuse the Experts had ever seen.
- Their verdict: “These people will likely never recover, or ever be an active part of a church again.”
- I have endured a “bully” pulpit, but Pastors are also victims of abuse. The spiritual abuse door swings both ways.
- My last three churches all had pastors who became embroiled in headline-making sexual scandals. The “holocaust” ending in a devastating church split.
- Me? I’m thinking, “Three strikes—I’m out!”
God AGAIN—had OTHER plans.
- First, because His plan holds the promise that He will never forsake you. (No matter how fierce your storm!)
- Second, because of His love, He will make a way when you lose your way.
- I was befriended by one Christian couple.
- Ned and Maryellen—you were the incarnation for me; Jesus with skin on.
- They washed my wounds with the word of God.
- They spoke Light and Love into my life when I saw only darkness, pain, and hopelessness.
- They “sang” songs of faith to me when I was engulfed in storm clouds of despair and doubt.
- They gave me back my song when I believed I would never sing again.
- They were His Lighthouse’s, shining Truth into my storm; reviving my battered faith.
- Though we have never formally met, I will love them to my last earthly breath.
Which brings me to this place—this book I call, Habakkuk’s Vineyard.
(Perhaps the point and real purpose of it all?)
This “vineyard” has been a barren place for sure—of everything but His Love and Grace.
Because it has been RIGHT HERE that He has PROVED TO ME:
Nothing can separate me from the love of God!
- Not broken families.
- Not our own brand of broken behavior.
- Not broken churches.
- Not other broken hearts—who just don’t know Him yet.
- NOTHING. [Romans 8:38-39]
- That word is now branded on my soul.
God always has OTHER plans for us. Plans for GOOD—not just calamity! (Jeremiah 29: 11)
Today I am attending a church. (Yes, I do still struggle at times…) But MIRACLE of MIRACLES, I wrote this book FOR YOU, a Prodigal.
Like I said before, “Yeah, Me too!”