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High Kicks and Higher Expectations

14/6/17 - Pastor Young

As an adolescent, I fulfilled the stereotype of thousands of Asian immigrants before me.

Yes, my parents enrolled me in martial arts. 

I was terrible! I had trouble remembering the different techniques, and often made mistakes that resulted in the master scolding me. His terrifying face, angry tone, and tendency to misunderstand my apologies as laughter turned my stomach in knots, and I began to dream of quitting. In fact, the happiest times were in the car when I would get momentarily distracted by a custard stand on the side of the road (we never stopped there).

As a student of Tang Soo Do, I was undesirable. I had no initial desire to practice martial arts, and my lack of physical and mental prowess in performing pushed me further away. The harshness of the master only piled more misery on top, and I began to try and think of any excuse I could to miss classes. 

Mostly I lied about different parts of my body hurting that day (on a pie chart of my fictional ailments, the largest piece would be my stomach). Some days, my parents relented and let me stay home. Other days, they told me that I would feel better on the way to class. I wasn't sure when I was most effective in my excuses; it all seemed to be dependent on my their mood, and their weariness in dealing with my sullen whining for the thirty minute car rides.

I've grown up some since then, but I still have a tendency to make excuses. I am told to follow Jesus, and I do, but there are a hundred other things on my mind too. The excuses, they're a lot more elaborate, and a lot more truthful now -- some of them involve responsibility, and being reasonable.

But Jesus never seems to become impatient with me. He doesn't bend to my will, though. He tells me, again and again through Luke 9:57-62, of His expectations. He's not mean-spirited about it. It's just the way it is, and He reminds me gently.

Even if I craft the best excuse that I can think of, I don't think I can top the one that the second person in Luke 9:57-62 comes up with -- burying his father. And yet following Jesus takes precedence over everything. There's no other way to interpret His response. That's why Matthew was able to leave everything behind immediately in Luke 5:28 in order to follow Him. 

Eventually, I quit going to martial arts. I didn't get very far, and I felt pretty sheepish whenever I would run into the master. I felt bad that all of his cajoling and yelling didn't change me at the end of the day. 

Can you relate? Do you ever feel like you don't measure up, or want to give it up? Is there shame when you think of Jesus?

God knows me. God knows you. He knows our tendencies to commit to things we're not confident with, and He knows the way we fail spectacularly and come up with even more excuses. He knows that the cost is much too high for us -- but the cost is even higher for Him. In giving His Son Jesus to the world, He knew what was to come. His Son's death on the cross would be the only way to set us free, and enable us to follow Him. 

There was no cajoling -- just the commands to follow Him. There was no yelling -- just the cry of Jesus upon that cross as He gave up His spirit. 

And in this, we are able. We are restored by Him, that even as we fall short of the high cost of discipleship, He makes it up for us. Even as we feel ready to pack it in and call it quits, He holds onto us, reminding us that we are His beloved, and that He will never let go.

 

Come, let us follow Him together,

Pastor Young