While I was in Brazil Liam was extremely ill. He developed a severe case of stomach
flue. When Lollie and I spoke on
Sunday she told me that it was bad.
On Monday we left for the mountains. I had no contact with my family till Thursday morning. For three consecutive evenings I dreamt
that my son died. The dreams were
vivid. There were scenes from the
hospital and emotions of despair.
I woke in the mornings with anxiety. I prayed a lot.
I also wondered.
How would I feel if my son died while I was on a
ministry trip? How would it affect
my relationship with Lollie and with God?
Somehow I stumbled upon Luke 14 where Jesus talks about the foundations
of following Him. Jesus makes an
observation in that passage that has always startled me; even more so when I
was in the Brazilian mountains having the bad dreams. Jesus says that,
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his
own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and
even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ” (Luke 14:26, ESV)
The word that
stung me in the mountains was the word hate. Some translations soften the word with a paraphrase of
sorts. The most popular one is, “love me more than …” For obvious reasons
I like paraphrases like this. Even
so I was confronted with the notion that in order to follow Jesus I had to love
mentioned before that I think one of the biggest rationalizations used by the bourgeois
(like me) not to follow Jesus is the biological family. So I wrestled with this principle of
hating. Dallas Willard said
somewhere that Jesus is not making a prohibitive statement in this verse. He is not a stern-faced killjoy
pointing a finger saying you are not allowed! According to Willard, Jesus is stating a principle of common
sense in the vein of “if you cannot add one and one you cannot do mathematics”. Discipleship becomes possible when we
hate all else, or to use the paraphrase, “love Jesus more.”
morning I phoned Lollie and heard that Liam is running around the house as
healthy as can be. Instead of his
tummy running it was his feet. I
felt something that must have resembled Abraham’s relief with the Isaac ordeal
(cf. Genesis 22). I also realized
that the person doing the hardest ministry in that week was not me teaching
discipleship in the Brazilian mountains but Lollie running after a two year old
with diarrhea. Here is to spouses
who deal with the crap when some of us are away on “ministry”.