Because There is a Cost to Fulfillment

by | Jan 30, 2012 | Uncategorized

My husband and I listen as the newlyweds lay out their plans for the future. How they want to be in ministry, have children, attend higher schools of learning. A three-year plan for blissful happiness detailing the month and year when each of their children will enter the world.

And though the breathe of our experience as a couple fell under ten years at the time of that coffee conversation, I couldn’t help but chuckle on the inside. Because following Christ and finding fulfillment isn’t really about our well- laid plans written in our daily planner. 

In my experience, it has been just the opposite.

It starts with a niggle. The town crier ringing the bell of my heart, declaring change is coming. Prepare! Then he reveals hints to the plot and the mystery, spoken in the romance of detail, turning each page that is my story. The unfolding love story between my Savior and me.  A story that grows in the soil of intimate conversation, cultivates a readiness to change.

And this kind of love, it opens the heart wide to accept the cost. The cost to follow Jesus. Because there is a cost, you know?

Jesus spells it out on the journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:57-62), walking through hostile Samaria where his reputation isn’t exactly one of a rock star.  When he encounters a man that declares, I will follow you wherever you go, Jesus sheds light on what that entails.

He lets him know they won’t sleep in five-star hotels, eat eggs benedict for breakfast, or be welcomed by strangers. In fact, they may not sleep in a bed at all.

We never hear of that man again.

Meanwhile, when Jesus asks another to follow Him along the road, the man agrees  . . . with conditions.

That man? We never hear of him again either.

Then a third stranger along the road declares his allegiance to follow, right after he checks off his to-do list.  The grocery lists, house cleaning, meal preparation, volunteer commitments.

Jesus keeps walking, no looking back. He leaves those guys with good intentions in the dust he kicks up from the sandals on his feet. Let’s them attend to their agendas and routines, while He continues to make imprints along the dusty road to destiny, thinking about what He will do for us all along the way.

And when I think about how I justify my own spiritual journey, the way I spend my time,  I learn that the word justify means to show oneself righteous as he wishes to be and I feel naked. Like I want to crawl under a table and hide or lay prostrate asking Him to forgive me.

The faces of those strangers Jesus met on the road, they look like mine.

Jesus holds the map to our journey, knows the best way to get there. Highlights the road, the best places to stay, decides how long we stay in each place, who he wants us to meet,  and what we will do while we stay there.

And when the trip is a success, we see fruit in relationships, find our place in community, feel the joy of transformation, receive favor among the noble voices, He reminds us of who we are. That fulfillment in life doesn’t come from what we do – our place in society, the well-checked list, the neighborhood garden of hospitality that feeds longing souls – it lies simply in who we are in Christ.

The best laid plans to reach fulfillment? They’re in the whisper of His voice leading from the map in His hands, with the giant heading at the top: Follow Me!  

What keeps you from following Him?

Today’s post inspired by the book Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson and cultivated by teaching and conversation among a small group of women seeking to follow Jesus.

Counting gifts with Ann, won’t you join me by leaving a celebration of thanks today in the comment box?

  • This warm weather, that makes the heart sing like spring.
  • Blooms early on the Lenten rose, a promise of renewal after winter’s chill.
  • Early morning sun illuminating foliage.
  • Words of transformation and comfort in the comment box like a whisper from God, yes, you did hear me when you wrote that.
  • The promise of an anniversary trip to England.
  • Satisying dinner and hearty conversation with H, time out for just the two of us.
  • Chatty conversations and laughter with my girl.
  • Divine appointments, yes they’re the best.

Linking with Jen and Shanda on Tuesday! 

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  1. Tara@pohlkottepress

    “Romance in the detail, turning each page that is my story.” Love. Couldn’t agree with all of this more! Great list as well…Hello, trip to England{!!}

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Tara. It was good to see you as the first one to comment. Sometimes when I hit publish I am not sure what I have to say will resonate with anyone! And yes, can’t wait to go to England. Keeping my fingers crossed for May and my husbands schedule to remain open. Hope you have a great Monday!

  2. kd sullivan

    How true it is that often the path God takes us on looks nothing like the one we plan for ourselves!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my, its been the case for me . . .most of my life. But what an adventure! Sometimes when I write stories about my life I wonder if people will believe them. Feel like I have lived ten different lives in some ways.

  3. Pam

    Popped over here from Ann’s and was touched by your beautiful and poignant post! Sweet list, especially the promise of an anniversary trip to England : )

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Pam, so glad you stopped by from Ann’s. Love that opportunity to link and meet new bloggers. Hope you will visit again soon! Blessings.

  4. Stefanie Brown

    The truth in this statement JUMPS right off the page…
    “And this kind of love, it opens the heart wide to accept the cost. The cost to follow Jesus. Because there is a cost, you know?”
    We tend to want all the benefits without paying the price. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
    Love your list, too:)))

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I agree Stefanie. Even when it comes to writing and blogging. There is a cost to putting yourself out there and I certainly don’t want to do that unless I hear Him speak first. Thanks so much for tweeting my story today. You always brighten my day.

  5. Kristin

    I’m so glad Jesus holds the map and navigates me! I would otherwise be so lost!
    I’m so glad to have found you and your place. Would love to come back and read more:)
    Blessings to you~

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too Kristin, thankful He is in control. So glad you made a visit and please do come back!

  6. Deborah

    Joining you from Ann’s place. What a lovely post you did today. Thank you for sharing. What a blessing to have a special anniversay to England.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Deborah, I am holding out hope for that trip to England. Crossing my fingers and toes!

  7. Theresa Miller

    “Then he reveals hints to the plot and the mystery, spoken in the romance of detail, turning each page that is my story. The unfolding love story between my Savior and me. A story that grows in the soil of intimate conversation, cultivates a readiness to change.” Awe, this is beautiful!

  8. Dea Moore

    We don’t want a confrontational Jesus do we? We want Jesus to say, “I would love to have you follow Me—-and you can decide how that best works out for you?” But this story certainly seems to say that to follow we are going to have to stop justifying why we can’t go in the direction He’s leading–at least not a the moment. The cost of following pays out in eternal dividends, and the story He writes weaves us into a plot of eternal significance that we cannot imagine and will only know in its fullness when we arrive on the other shore.

    Thanks for this challenge from God’s Word today, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh Dea, I thought you were already gone on your trip. So glad to hear from you. I am praying and can’t wait to hear about it! You write beautiful comments. I often read them more than once. So much wisdom . . . the cost pays out in eternal dividends and the plot of eternal significance . . just love that!

  9. Laura Boggess

    This is so beautiful, Shelly. And true. I see myself in those faces too. Oh, how I can justify. But I have never been very good at reading maps…so why do I get all mad when He takes me down a new road? Trusting His way is best can sometimes be a challenge for me…but I am so glad He never leaves me alone. Isn’t that amazing? He never leaves. Wow.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Laura, I am a horrible map reader. Ususally leave navigation in the hands of my husband or someone else more proficient than I. I am the landmark queen and judging by your running photos, I think you may be too. Love those by the way. So glad He leads us in the way we should go!

  10. Dolly

    Thanks, Shelly, for your beautiful and truth-filled post that resonates with what God has been talking to me about today and lately…following Him where He leads and not letting fear get in the way…I was chuckling with you as I read your opening…God’s ways are so not my ways and I have been surprised more than once…Very Grateful for His patient love…Read somewhere else (your comment) that your dog Winston passed, I am sorry…praying that God comforts you and that you and hubby will get to go to England for your anniversary 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Dolly, so glad this spoke to you. It seems to be a sacred echo I noticed among bloggers today – this fear in the midst of stepping out in obedience and learning to trust. Thank you for prayers regarding Winston. He passed last Saturday and I miss him terribly. The grief hits at the oddest times, like pushing my grocery cart down the pet food aisle.

  11. Amy Sullivan

    The towncryer ringing the bell in my heart…ok, that is where I’m living. Right in that sentence.

    Thanks, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love your enthusiasm Amy. Me too. I want to stay there listening and preparing. Always.

  12. Diana

    “Because following Christ and finding fulfillment isn’t really about our well- laid plans written in our daily planner.” I can relate to that sentence more then I would like to admit. Presently Husband and I are experiencing a two-and-a-half year setback in our three year marriage. (smile) By now we had hoped to be in our ministries and almost debt free. Instead we have detoured into hard lessons and character building and getting all the “grime” out of our hearts before He can use us. Not a fun trek but we have reached the point where now I would not trade it for anything. Adversity really does grow a heart quickly.

    …I needed more growing then I realized.


    • Redemption's Beauty

      Diana, I was going to offer you a coaching appointment until I heard the hope at the end of your comment. I am grateful that you are growing through the adversity and pray God will use what you have been through as you minister to others. And your testimony here is such a story of grace and redemption. He is more concerned with who you are than what you do. So glad you stopped by and left this comment. Thank you!

  13. Shanda best laid plans were not what He wanted for me, even though I thought they were at the time. He gently leads us to follow, even when He changes direction. We just follow, in faith. And we are never disappointed!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I can relate Shanda, sure most of us can. In my experience, His plans were much better than mine anyway!

  14. V

    I am so thankful to have learned a lot about God’s plans, mainly that they are not necessarily my plans. I think I know what needs to happen and then God trumps me with a much better plan. It has taken me many years to learn that lesson in regard to the plans I had for my children. What God has done with them is much better than I could ever have imagined.

    Thank you for a convicting post today.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Plans, they just get in the way don’t they? And I hope I can echo what you said about your kids, that what God has done with them is much better than I could ever have imagined. What a gift! So glad you stopped by.

  15. Denise J. Hughes

    The best-laid plans. (I can almost hearing Him chuckling.) Ah, how I’d love to chart my own course. But then again, I learned the hard way that “my way” isn’t always the “best way.” I traveled this faith road a while before I learned to trust Him – really trust Him – and finally et go of my own plans.

    Beautiful post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Denise, I don’t think I know anyone who has traveled the road a while before learning to trust . . . and it seems I re-learn it every day. Glad we are in good company! Loved your post today as well. Still thinking about it and praying that God will do that for my kids.

  16. Danelle

    Praying I choose the “highlighted road” He has mapped for me. Such inspiration here!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Danelle, me too! So glad to have you as part of this community.

  17. Ms. Kathleen

    I had never thought of justification in this way — excellent and convicting “I learn that the word justify means to show oneself righteous as he wishes to be…” Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I never thought if it that way either, it was quite convicting for me as well. And now, whenever I am quick to justify that definition comes back to me.

  18. bluecottonmemory

    So exciting – an anniversary trip to England. I’m wanting to do a bicycle tour of the Loire Valley, maybe for our 30th – before I’m way to old to bicycle! LOL

    The follow me story – the literalist in me has always struggled with that story. What about the father – just walking out on his family? The rich son leaving an ailing parent maybe? No good-bye. No making sure he is taken care of. The literalist in me gets lost in that. The figurative person gets it, though. Following God is a constant change journey, a letting go journey. I love the beginning – how you talk about this as a love story – a suspense, too – and a thriller at times – but at least we are assured of the ending!!!

    I so enjoyed visiting today:)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      That bicycle trip sounds amazing. And I am a literalist too, when it comes to the practicalities of life regarding this story. You said it so well! But really, following him is full of adventure and fulfillment beyond what we can imagine in the practical of the every day. So glad you visited. You gave me some things to think about.

  19. DeborahJoy

    what keeps me from following Him? Doubt. Fear. Uncertainty. My own comfort and ease. Wanting to ‘fit in’. The list goes on.
    I need to trust more, and hope more.
    (and May is lovely here in England!)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      DeborahJoy, I didn’t realize you live in England. Glad to know May is a good month. I was just there in December which was lovely actually. Had a great day to walk around with my camera, even had a canopy of sunshine. And keep trusting in hope, she isn’t something we have to work up, she is just around the corner waiting to be our best friend if we will just have her.

  20. Jennifer_StudioJRU

    Beautiful post… and so many wonderful gifts! An anniversary trip to England sounds like an amazing celebration of marriage! Love it! 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Jennifer. I am already dreaming of being in England!

  21. sixgoodfigs

    I’m glad you visited me, so that I was lead here.
    I was one of those newly-weds! Many years later, I agree that the biggest changes occur when we allow Jesus to surprise us. Thanks for a beautiful post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Really loved reading about your life in Indonesia and so glad we found each other. Our ideas are grand, His even better. Thanks!

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