Saturday, January 19, 2013

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or field for my sake will recieve a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Leaving is Loving. This chapter in Max Lucado's book No Wonder they call him the Savior caused me to get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and also brought me comfort. I just had to share it with you.

The gospel is full of rhetorical challenges that test our faith and buck against human nature.

"It is more blessed to give that to recieve" (Acts 20:35)

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it" (Luke 9:24)

"Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour" (Matthew 13:57)

But no statement is as confusing or frightening as the one in Matthew 19:29. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or field for my sake will recieve a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

The part about leaving land and fields I can understand. It is the other part that causes me to cringe. It's the part about leaving mom and dad, saying goodbye to brothers and sisters, placing a farewell kiss on a son or daughter. It is easy to parallel discipleship with poverty or public disgrace, but leaving my family? Why do I have to be willing to leave those I love? Can sacrifice get anymore sacrificial than that?

"Woman behold your son"

Mary beholds the crucifixion of her firstborn. One wonders what memories she conjures up as she witnesses his torture. The long ride to Bethlehem, perhaps. A baby's bed made from cow's hay. Fugitives in Egypt. At home in Nazareth. Panic in Jerusalem. "I thought he was with you!" Carpentry lessons. Dinner table laughter.

And then the morning Jesus came in from the shop early, his eyes firmer, his voice more direct. He had heard the news. "John is preaching in the desert." Her son took off his nail apron, dusted off his hands and with one last look said goodbye to his mother. They both knew it would never be the same again. In the last look they shared a secret, the full extent of which was too painful to say aloud.

Mary learnt that day the heartache comes from saying goodbye. From then on she was to lover her son from a distance; on the edge of a crowd, outside of a packed house, on the shore of the sea. Maybe she was even there when the enigmatic promise was made, "Anyone who has left... mother... for my sake."

Mary wasn't the first one to be called to say goodbye to loved ones for the sake of the kingdom. Joseph was called to be an orphan in Egypt. Jonah was called to be a foreigner in Nineveh. Daniel was sent from Jeruslem to Babylon. Abraham was sent to sacrifice his own son. Paul had to say goodbye to his heritage. The Bible is bound together with goodbye trails and stained with farewell tears.

In fact, it seems that goodbye is a word all too prevalent in the Christian's vocabulary. Missionaries know it well. Those who send them know it, too. The docotr who leaves the city to work in the jungle hospital has said it. So has the Bible translator who lives far from home. Those who feed the hungry, those who teach the lost, those who help the poor all know the word goodbye.

Airports. Luggage. Embraces. Taillights. "Wave to grandma." Tears. Bus terminals. Ship docks. "Goodbye Daddy." Tight throats. Ticket counters. Misty eyes. "Write me!"
What kind of God would put people through such agony? What kind of God would give you families and then ask you to leave them? What kind of God would give you friends and then ask you to say goodbye?A God who knows that the deepest love is built not on passion and romance, but on a common mission and sacrifice.

A God who knows that we are the only pilgrims and that eternity is so close that any "goodbye" is in reality a "see you tomorrow."

A God who did it himself.
"Woman behold your son."

Jesus looked at Mary. His ache was from a pain far greater than that of the nails and thorns. In their silent glance they again shared a secret.

And he said goodbye.

So I share this chapter as a way of saying, Mom, Dad, I love you. I love you so much that I had to say goodbye. I hope that by saying goodbye you will one day realize why I did and will join me in eternity.


  1. Powerful! Having experienced this for self, one knows this pain only through experience.

  2. Great blog post, Carmen. Thanks for your writing :)