And he [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Luke 9:23-25 (ESV)
Last week a dear friend went into nursing care. She was a mentor in my early years of ministry, and here in her last years, is mentoring again. She determined as a young woman to give her life to the Lord. After going to seminary she lived entirely for the Lord’s will. She never married. She committed 24 hours a day to her calling. She gave not only her life, but most of her income and time to God.
The cost of her commitment was a family to care for her during these years. The cost was a simple life, living in the same small apartment for over 40 years. No accumulation of all the things we think we need in life–nice clothes, nice car, nice home, nice furniture, collections. She told me she had a box of papers and photos someone might be interested in having. That is all.
But what my friend has gained cannot be measured. Perhaps the most gracious reward is in character. When I visit her, the nurses cannot say enough about her kindness, her gratitude for all they do, and her encouragement to them. Here in her time of need, she is still the Lord’s servant in all she does. Isn’t this who we all want to be, people who love, who show kindness, who are gentle toward others, who give, asking nothing in return? But most of us aren’t willing to carry our cross everyday. We don’t understand that it is the cross that shapes us into the kind of person we long to be.
My friend will leave a legacy of lives changed, and a legacy of financial wealth to organizations committed to bringing Christ to generations to come. Oh, what a celebration there will be in heaven when she passes into the Lord’s eternal care! The cost was great, but since Jesus paid it all, the profit she reaps cannot be measured in human terms.