Written by Derek Cooper
Friday, 05 October 2012 00:00
The only thing more challenging than vacationing with children is taking a vacation with three children – all under the age of five. If it is not one thing, it is another. Someone is always cranky, tired, hungry, or needs to have a diaper changed. This summer my wife and I innocently decided to drive to Vermont with our children, a good eight-hour trip to the north. We wanted to hike along rustic trails. We wanted to eat good food. We wanted to swim in the endless watering holes and take in the mountain views.
What really happened was quite different from what we envisioned: frequent potty stops, hikes cut short by screaming toddlers, eating at less-than-desirable restaurants, and dodging flying food sent off by our son’s spoon. But amidst all the chaos, all the yelling and screaming, we did have moments – not quite long enough, but at least there were moments – where we enjoyed each other’s company, marveled at God’s creation, and even laughed at each other’s antics.
And that is when I thought, this is just like God.
Our own travel with God includes much that is unexpected – some things great, others difficult – and much that disrupts our plans along the way. It is a hazardous journey, where one should pack expectations in a far corner of the suitcase.
Appropriately enough, I had already been thinking about the concept of “hazards” in light of the publication of my latest book, Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. As the title of this book indicates, co-author Ed Cyzewski and I suggest that being a follower of Jesus is fraught with all kinds of challenges. In contrast to what we often hear on the television and on the radio, we believe that being a disciple of Jesus is not easy. It is been my experience, in fact, that following Jesus means making regular sacrifices, taking financial and vocational risks, and being uncertain about the future. When I began to take my faith in Jesus seriously while in college, I was not prepared for the risky and faith-driven lifestyle to which Jesus was directing me. Not only did I have to learn how to act, speak, and look at life differently, I also had to give up many of my childhood dreams. Whereas I had always wanted to spend my professional days in the courtroom arguing cases like I was Perry Mason, God called me to sacrifice my vocational dream of being a lawyer on the altar of discipleship. Instead of becoming professionally successful and amassing an impressive income, I had to trust that God would provide for my family financially as I spent several years in seminary and in graduate school. And instead of knowing like an architect what the blueprint of my vocational destiny would be, I had to find peace in Jesus rather than in the certainty of a career.
As time has passed and I have grown in my relationship with Christ, the hazards of being a Jesus-follower have not diminished.
Yet, despite the hazards, I would not trade anything for what my family has learned in the discipleship process. Like our whirlwind vacation in New England, we have learned how little control we have over our daily events, and we have learned to surrender them to our all-knowing God. It is a life of faith rather than sight, but we have decided that committing to the cost of following Jesus is well worth the journey.
If you would like to recommit to the cost of following Jesus, I encourage you to read Hazardous. As you do so, it is my hope and prayer that you will be challenged to embrace the risks of following Jesus and to surrender your plans to the Master’s – with the result of maturing in your faith in and knowledge of God.
Dr. Derek Cooper is assistant professor of biblical studies and historical theology at Biblical, where he also serves as the associate director of the Doctor of Ministry program. Derek is the author of several books, including So You’re Thinking about Going to Seminaryand Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. Hazardous was written for both individuals and churches, especially for small groups, youth groups, and Sunday school classes.