Genesis 19 recounts one of the more sensational stories in the Bible. It’s about one righteous man’s life and a defining moment for him in the midst of a city full of wickedly evil people. True to the promise that he made with Abraham, God looks but does not find 10 righteous people in the city. However, he does protect Lot and his family from the coming destruction and allows them time to flee. This is, more than likely, what was most important to Abraham when he asked God to spare the city earlier: the life of his nephew, Lot.
I see in this passage the cost of following God. First, we notice that when God speaks and asks us to move, the time to do it is immediately. When we become parents, we quickly realize through our children that delayed obedience really is disobedience. We do see evidence of this in Lot, who even upon seeing the wickedness of the men outside and hearing a direct command from God, remains conflicted…
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. (v.16)
Second, if needed God will drag us kicking and screaming to where we need to be. I have not found this to be universally true, but it may indeed be. The angels in the story grabbed Job’s hand and forced him to flee. I do not think it is above God to use events in our lives, especially painful ones, to drag us away from what we have built up to be more important than Him. When we put things ahead of God – money, comfort, even our children – we worship them above Him. If God has set us aside for a special purpose and this is the state he finds us in, He is not above removing those things have our heart’s devotion. If we aren’t willing to forsake all, He may indeed take all until we learn to trust Him.
“What hinders me from hearing is that I am taking up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place.” – Oswald Chambers
Third, we can’t look back. When you make the difficult decision to forsake all for the cause of Christ – not salvation, but rather a clear call to mission – the enemy will tempt you with thoughts of how much easier your life was before. He will describe a former life of plenty while you struggle in hardship. Lot’s wife longed for the comforts of home and lingered behind him, resulting in her own destruction. These are moments when our resolve must be strong. I am reminded of the story of Hernán Cortés, a spanish conquistador who set out to conquer the New World with about 500 men. Upon arriving, the hardship of life in a foreign land was apparent, so Cortés did what he thought was necessary: he ordered the men to burn the ships. Return would not be an option.
Sometimes following God means putting everything in perspective. Daniel outwardly defied the king’s decree. The disciples dropped their nets and left their families. The apostles risked their lives spreading the Word through missions work. It would appear at first glance that perhaps their decisions were made somewhat recklessly. Like they had failed to “count the cost”. However I would suggest that one who truly understands the ramifications of following God or not realizes that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Our resolve today should be to follow God wherever he leads. In spite of the apparent risks, it’s still the safest place to be.