Count the Cost

Just like I expressed in my last post, this Easter was definitely different than any other Easter I have ever celebrated, but in more ways than I anticipated.

Sure, I was away from my family, in a different country, and entering the winter season as opposed to spring, but I also spent my first Easter Sunday at home sick, and I have been sick today as well.

Even though I have battled illness this Easter holiday, I believe this has been the most beautiful Easter I have ever experienced.

How incredible is it that while so many people across the world were meeting in churches to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, Jesus loves me enough to meet with me in my tiny little bedroom in South Africa? THAT is the God we love and serve!

Since I woke up on Easter morning yesterday through tonight, God has had me on a deep journey of remembrance, celebration, and introspection. Not only has God revealed Himself, His Son, and His Spirit to me more these past couple days than ever before – but He has also examined my heart and brought to light things about myself that had previously been hidden from me.

You likely do not have time for me to allow my confessions and revelations to spill out over this page, but I do feel compelled by the Spirit to let down my guard and share some of what He showed me this weekend.

Friends, I do not want to paint a picture of perfection while I am over here serving in South Africa and updating you via somewhat-weekly blog posts. I never want to paint any sort of picture of perfection when I am sharing about anything or anyone other than Christ Himself. You and I both know full well I am far from perfect. I struggle with sin, the enemy, my flesh, and spirituality each and every day. Praise God He sent His Son to forever intercede for you and me as our High Priest, and that as He molds us into His image each day, He is drawing us nearer to perfection – though we will never reach it, as we seek after Christ with our whole heart He changes us so that we might grow toward it.

Anyway, that is somewhat beside the point. Let me reference God’s Word to hopefully help guide the conversation back to the Center:

“Then He said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it…’

“A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, ‘If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost…’

“Peter said, ‘We’ve left our homes to follow You.’

‘Yes,’ Jesus replied, ‘and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” –Luke 9, 14, 18

The Lord drove these words deep into my soul today. You see, I had been walking through each day thinking God had already made me realize this life is not about me since my first semester of college at Texas A&M in 2008. It was then that all of a sudden, when I had no one else to rely on but Christ, our relationship flourished. After 18 years of living a life where I felt like the whole world revolved around Meghan Hendrickson – the Lord met me right where I was and gave me a painful, yet freeing, dose of reality.

Well God did that once again today. With every day for the last few years, God has grown my desire to bring Him honor in everything I do. I would say He has exponentially grown that desire within me since I have been in South Africa this semester. But no matter how many times I pray the Lord will lead me in His will as I surrender all I am to Him – I somehow have been entirely blinded to the sin of selfishness I am still treading through.

Jesus denied Himself when He took my sin and the sin of all humanity upon Himself on the cross He carried. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice because the reward was better – salvation was better – HE was better. The love of God far outweighed the cost Christ suffered.

I am praying the Spirit enables me to put to words what He wrote on my heart this afternoon.

Originally, I was convicted to the extreme by the fact that although I may seek to deny myself and take up my cross daily to follow Jesus, that does not necessarily mean I follow-through and do so.

“Am I holding on to my life Jesus? Am I carrying my cross? Am I denying myself? Am I losing my life for Your sake?”

Those were some of the questions I brought to the foot of the cross today. No one else but my Savior could answer my questions, for I seek the approval of God and no one else.

In but an instant the Lord’s saving grace and powerful rescue came rushing in as I was wrecked with tears. For better or for worse, I am committed to following Jesus as long as I live – no matter the cost.

My sickness over Easter was by no means a great cost, but it was exactly what the Lord knew I needed to see the costs He is having me experience as He continues to lead me down this road of obedience through faith.

I was comfortable with the best friends I have ever made in my 21 years of living at Texas A&M, but God called me to pick up my cross and follow Him to Baylor. I was comfortable being able to call and visit my loving family whenever I wanted during the trials of college life in Texas, but God called me to pick up my cross and follow Him to South Africa.

I have left my friends. I have left my family. But the Lord has never left me – and He never will.

The Lord has helped me to deny myself in ways I did not even notice, and I am calling on Him to help me to deny myself in EVERYTHING. Though my end goal may be to bring glory to God, I am not perfect and in the process of seeking to worship Him with my life, I make several impulsive decisions that are not for the sake of the cross, but for the sake of my fulfillment.

“Father, I believe whoever loses their life for Your sake will find it. I believe when I surrendered my life to Your Lordship, I accepted a life of both blessings and difficulties. Father, help me to see Christ face-to-face every morning and every night as He reminds me to deny myself, and pick up my cross, and follow Him. May Your Holy Spirit grant me the discernment to know how to live, and move, and breathe for the glory of Your Name – the Name above all other names. Thank You for the freeing fact that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank You for Your redeeming rescue all the days of this life You give me. I love You Father, thank You for loving me.”

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