“Then Jesus said to another man, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:59-60)
This morning, as I sat with grief from the loss of my grandmother (98) and the loss of a friend’s sibling (32), I meditated in search of a message that could help me distinguish between my hurt and my heart and give me a positive word forward. As I sat there, music blasting, legs crossed, and palms upward, I began to breathe deeply and to slowly experience my pain as a separate entity from me. Not wanting to open my eyes and possibly risk surrendering the liberty meditation had given me, I asked God how I could walk in myself instead of walking in my hurt. “Let the dead bury the dead,” He reminded me, prompting me to review that passage of Scripture at the conclusion of my session.
In Luke 9 verses 57-62, we learn about the true cost of discipleship. Volunteering to follow God requires commitment beyond what momentary enthusiasm can provide, challenging Christians to relinquish the comforts and cares of this life for service. Disciples are reminded in these verses that luxuries such as stability and belongingness aren’t consistently characteristic of life with Christ nor is time to meet secular expectations always afforded. This becomes especially true for the gentleman requesting to follow Jesus only after being able to first go handle his father’s burial arrangements. In Jewish circles, funerals were normally held the same day as a person’s death because keeping a body overnight rendered an entire house unclean. By choosing to follow Jesus, this man would be breaking a ceremonial tradition, causing him to be scrutinized by his entire community.
So what are we to take from all this? Does serving God mean being unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable? No. Serving God means accepting the possibility that life will sometimes be a rollercoaster, that people won’t always agree with your decisions, and that their inability to wrap their mind around your actions or inaction may lead them to discredit you. Serving God means choosing the high road and pressing toward the mark. It means making pain work for you by using it to fuel your creative works instead of allowing it to stop them. Today, as the cares of this world threaten to hinder your fruitfulness, remind yourself that you are not your pain, your pain is your launching pad. Leave hopelessness to those without hope, but you, my friend, remain hopeful.