Why am I here?
This has been very difficult to write. From the time I was first adopted into God’s family through the work of Jesus Christ, I have been learning what it is to be Jesus’ disciple. Verses about the costs of following Christ, such as Luke 14:25-35 and Matthew 10:37-39, have always scared me, yet I would not ignore them. When I left the USA 16 years ago, I was willing to pay the price, but I wanted results in direct proportion to the cost. I wanted a “good deal.” I could not answer my question today—Why am I here?—until I had pinpointed that hidden motivation. The dissatisfaction evident in the pain, discomfort and lack of success in the above arguments tells me that I did not get a “good deal.” I realize that many of these were just superficial costs, their difficulty lying in the consistency with which I have to pay them. But there were dearer costs, and I’d had enough. My reasoning was that if you paid a lot, there would be a lot of results. I continued to reason that I had paid enough, and I no longer wanted to pay the price.
God, however, never promised comfort, success, or lack of pain. As I prepared this paper, I have been forced to look at the ugliness of these culturally based goals that attack my peace. Do I actually forget that God is faithfully in control?—that he never promised me a false “good deal”? The falsehood was based on the lies of my culture that I unknowingly accepted as truth. Our history as children of God is filled with God asking his people to move in faith beyond circumstances and cultural goals.
I see this in the story of Esther, who went before the king on the possible penalty of death. I see it in Sarah, who because of her husband’s lack of faith was place squarely in the hands of Pharaoh. I see it in the Hebrew midwives, who feared God more than pharaoh and let the Hebrew babies live; in Mary, the mother of Jesus, who faced the loss of her reputation as well as that of her family when she became pregnant before the wedding; in Mary Magdalene, who received wonderful freedom from sin from the Lord but at the same time lost her source of income; and in the women in the book of Acts, who aren’t even mentioned by name but who were dragged off to prison because they dared openly to be followers of “the way.”
So why am I here?
Or rather—Why are we here—both you and I?
We are here because these women were faithful to trust God despite the cost, and God’s will was done.
We are here because we are challenged by the example of present-day sisters with that same faithfulness.
We are here because closeness to the holy God is an exquisite banquet that we cannot keep to ourselves. We will not eat and let others starve.
We are here by the authority of the Holy Spirit.
We are here by God’s grace.
We are here because God is the potter, and we are the clay.
We are here because Peter walked on the wavy sea when his eyes were on Jesus.
We are here because being Jesus Christ’s disciple is worth utter, total failure in all the ways we presently understand success.
My culture tells me to be happy, comfortable, fulfilled, “successful.”
What are the lies that your culture is telling you?
(Elizabeth Learner, Ministry to Muslim Women, p. 240-241)