Was it Worth It?

I feel I need to expand a bit on my answer from my previous blog post regarding the question:

"Was it worth it?"

I'm getting some private comments from folks that make me think I wasn't very clear.

I'm a somewhat literal person, and when people ask me 'was it worth it?' I have a hard time answering what I perceive as a vague question.

Are you saying:
"Was the sacrifice worth the reward?"
If so the answer is:  I'm not seeking a reward, so I can't really say that the sacrifice is worth something I'm not trying to get.

or "Was the sacrifice worth knowing people are coming to know Christ?"
A: God highly values finding lost sheep. Following God I condition myself to ignore what I want and learn to want what He wants.  So from that perspective yes, it is worth it. 

But with my shocking 'yes and no' answer from before,  what I probably should have said was:
A. I can't really answer that because the question is irrelevant.

If the question were relevant, I would have to spend a lot of time figuring out the value of things that I can't comprehend.  I can not comprehend the value of an eternity spent in heaven.  I don't know how to put a pricetag on a few precious moments with a loved one.   I don't know how you would answer the 'worth it' question because we're dealing with variables that have a worth beyond measure.

My point from yesterday was that the question was irrelevant because God has put this desire on our hearts and obedience is the only way we know how to live.

At certain points in your life you look back and assess.  From that assessment you think 'that worked out well" or "I should have done something different at that point" possibly you have some regrets, possibly you get some smiles.

But we're not done.  It really isn't time to assess the entire act.  Our lives are continuing on, we plan to return to PNG.  The only assessment I can make at this point is that it was the best decision of our lives thus far, to come to PNG.

I think, I'm going to stop asking people 'was it worth it?' and start asking them 'was it a good decision?'.  Yes it was a good decision.  It was a hard one, but a good one.

When I was in college my friend told me a story, which I later found out is called the "Story of the Taoist Farmer" or "The Horse that Ran Away".  Digging a little there apparently are many versions of the story from multiple cultures. 

Here is one version:
This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to console over his terrible loss. The farmer said, "What makes you think it is so terrible?"

A month later, the horse came home--this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer's good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, "What makes you think this is good fortune?"

The farmer's son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, "What makes you think it is bad?"

A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer's son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. "What makes you think this is good?" said the farmer.

My point in sharing this story is this:
We look at our lives through a very small window of time.  Our life spans are short compared to the history of man.  We also look at our lives through a very selfish lens.  'This is happening to me', 'how is this affecting me?'  I'm not judging, I'm just stating how we see the world.

When we expand that view, past our lives on earth and think with eternity it mind, and with God's kingdom in mind, then our perspective changes on a lot of things.

So with that 'was it worth it question?' we get asked, I think I would ultimately answer:

-I can't see what's going on in heaven, nor what my time on earth has produced.  I am unclear if I will ever get to see if my life displayed and how it bore fruit in heaven. ('Thank You' by Ray Boltz comes to mind).  I have faith that we've spent our time and effort doing things that will expand God's kingdom, and glorify Him.  I'm aware that we're not needed, instead we're privileged to be asked to help.  God could use anyone, we're not necessary, we're expendable and replaceable, and yet He loves us enough to ask us to serve Him.  From an earthly selfish perspective, since I can't see what God sees, there are days when the sacrifices seem overwhelming.  Those are my selfish days.  But God has taught me through this life to have Faith that our struggles and our toils have meaningful and lasting results.  With that faith I can firmly say that anything would be worth it.  Any level of sacrifice would be worth it.  Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and so even without this faith that I have, I still have a debt that I'll never be able to repay.  Regardless of worth, there is debt.  But even if there were no debt, and our actions produced folly and had no worth whatsoever (which I do not believe they do) I would still have absolutely no choice but to follow and obey because a life lived outside of obedience would be a miserable one.  God loves us and wants to bless us abundantly, and He does when you act in faith and obedience.  God has blessed us in so many deep and meaningful ways since choosing this lifestyle.  Ways I can't fully comprehend sometimes.  There is a depth of understanding of His love for us that I just didn't grasp before coming to PNG.  Just that closeness to God alone was worth it all.  I'd do it again in a heart beat.

That's what I should have said in my blog yesterday.  I was having a hard time coming up with the words.  I hope this helps.

Q.People have asked me "Chad, what if one of your gets gets sick or injured or worse? Would you feel your decision was foolish?"
A. In preparing to come to PNG we asked ourselves, 'where is the line we draw that says 'Okay God, I'm not willing to cross THIS line'?'  Honestly, before He asked us to move to PNG the answer was 'I'll follow you but please don't ask me to move to a foreign country'.  Then He did.  So I wasn't about to draw another line.  Definitely not "Okay we'll follow you to a foreign country but please don't let my kids get hurt."   That seems like a bad idea to me.  No, instead we had to resign ourselves to the fact that our kids may suffer.  THAT is a very hard process to do for parents.  To knowingly say to God, "I will obey you, even if it means I lose everything I love and care about."

Why do you think we ask for so much prayer?    I'm addressing these questions because people have asked them before.  I would not feel the decision was foolish.  It wasn't foolish.  We spent years considering it, praying, training, investigating.  We didn't go off half-cocked.  We were as cautious as could be and ultimately obeyed.

Q. How mad will you be if something very bad happens to your family because of your choice?
A. Mad at who myself or God?  The answer is neither.  I've never subscribed to the 'its okay to be mad at God' theory of therapy.  Part of relinquishing control to God is the understanding that bad things might happen.  I read a book 'why bad things happen to good people" and the author was a former rabbi who lost his son.  In the end, he lost his faith too.  There are reasons for that.  One reason is, asking the question 'Why?'  'Why God? Why did this happen?"  My entire life I've found that question to be a really dangerous one.  Who are we that we get to demand answers of God?  How entirely selfish is that question... why?   When I tell my children 'go to bed' and they say 'Why?'  I say 'Because I told you to!'  We don't often get to know why before something happens, and rarely after it happens.  In Acts ch8 Philip was told to get into the Eunich's chariot, so he did.  No idea why.  Turns out, it was for a really good reason, as that Eunich came to know about Jesus.  But Philip didn't ask 'why' he just started running. 

Asking Why assumes God owes you an answer, and He doesn't.  He is sovereign.  Just ask Job.
So knowing He is sovereign I often don't bother with 'why' questions, but begin working on reminding myself that all things work together for God's good.  And then further reminding myself that the Bible doesn't say 'that all things work together for Chad's good'.

It could very well be, that bad things happen to me and mine.  But when they do, I do not question that God is supreme, God is in command, God is good, and I am His servant.  That won't make me mad at myself, nor at God, nor at the decision.  I may experience anger, but it would be focused elsewhere until I can get rid of it.

I think that's enough of my personal philosophy on life for now.  This blog is supposed to be about what life is like over here.  I guess I was sharing some of the mental process.  I rarely get into 'preachy' mode because I figure most people have this stuff figured out WAY more than I do.