By Pastor Nyla Henry
Our son was five years old, and it was his first year to play soccer.
In his orange jersey, black shorts and knee socks, complete with shin guards, he was ready to take his place on the team and beat its opponents.
I was anxious to see how he would do.
Frozen in time, one memory of that season comes readily to mind: it was his turn to sit out (actually, they stood at the side of the field).
What would he do? Would he remain in the game, watching his teammates and cheering them on?
Not at all!
His attention was taken by an airplane flying high over the field, and when it was out of view, he took a stick and began making roads in the dirt.
Thankfully, I was too far away to chide or re-direct!
This scene came vividly to mind as I was reading Luke 9: 57-62, entitled “Exacting Discipleship” in the New American Standard Bible.
Three examples are given: one man volunteered to follow Jesus, and Jesus replied by letting the man know how hard it would be: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Jesus asked another man to follow him, but he answered, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father,” which probably meant that he wouldn’t be ready to follow Jesus until after his father died, and he didn’t know how long that would be.
He did call Jesus “Lord,” but was He really?
A third man said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home,” to which Jesus replied, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I see my five year-old distracted soccer player in these three accounts.
In the first, Jesus warns that hardship can distract us from following Him, and in the last two, we understand that we can be distracted by misplaced priorities and family attachments, as well as wanting to follow Jesus in our own time and on our own terms.
Like my little son, these men weren’t really in the game: they may as well have been watching airplanes in the sky or playing in the sand!
Discipleship is indeed exacting, as are the questions that arise from reading such a text: Am I in the game God has called me to?
Am I willing to pay the price?
What are my priorities?
Am I easily distracted?
Is something distracting me now?
Am I fit for the Kingdom of God?
Pastor Nyla Henry
Fruitvale Christian Fellowship