What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8, NIV 1984).
In his book The Insanity of God, Nik Ripken (pseudonym) shares the story of a Russian pastor sent to a Siberian prison because of his faith. His wife and children followed him there to support him in his suffering, and they too suffered. One night, the wife and three children ate their last bread and rested in the knowledge that they were about to starve to death if God did not provide.
That same winter night God spoke to a church deacon 30 kilometers away and told him to get out of bed, hitch his horse to a sled and carry food to the starving family. The deacon then argued with God that it was too cold and too dangerous. God continued to command him to go. The deacon then exclaimed that there were wolves out there that could eat his horse and then eat him as well.
“I’ll never make it back!” he cried out.
The Holy Spirit then spoke to him clearly, “You don’t have to come back. You just have to go.”
We doctors are geared to evaluate risk/benefit ratios. We evaluate patient problems, our solutions to those problems and calculate the potential benefit versus harm of our therapy. By weighing the risk against the benefit, we come up with a therapeutic decision that produces the best chance of helping our patients with the least chance of hurting them.
And we carry this line of thinking into our personal lives and into our lives of faith.
“God asks me to do this with him. What will be the consequences? How much the cost? What will it do to my practice, my income, my relationships, my reputation, my family? I know where God is pointing but I hesitate, so that I might be certain the benefit is worth the risk. What if I never make it back?”
And God says to me, “You don’t have to come back; you just have to go.”
Whatever the call, whatever the risk, help me follow.