I would like to ask you to consider a question: What are you willing to lose? And for what would you be willing to lose it? Finally, if you had to lose what you value over all else, what would enable you to not mourn its loss?
Ezekiel is a book with 48 chapters, each holding between 8 and 63 verses. Within this volume of text it would be easy to pass by 3 verses, tucked away amongst the others. However, there are 3 verses that should not be passed over. In fact, they should rattle our lives and challenge how we respond to circumstances.
Eze 24:15-18 The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
We have had a brief look at Ezekiel’s ministry and some of the crazy prophetic enactments God had him complete. Through all of this, Ezekiel’s wife did not leave him. She has put up with everything that he has done: the silence, and not having him as her own. And what do we see in the above 3 verses? God allows him NO public display of grief when his wife dies; he is not allowed to honour her. He had to carry on like nothing had happened.
She was “the delight of his eye” and yet Ezekiel fulfilled God’s command with unquestioning obedience. What enabled him to do this? The fact that she was the “delight of his eye” tells us that he loved her deeply; that he was not devoid of emotion.
This act was to show the grief God had over His people. They were His bride and the apple of His eyes. They were adored by Him. We were to feel God’s pain; the people were to see God’s pain as His people were taken away. But we also see the cost upon Ezekiel who lived for the Lord. Ministry costs. Obedience to God and His call comes with a cost. One of the major themes in the New Testament is suffering. Following Christ costs.
Three short sentences I once heard have remained with me: “Christ gave everything. Christ is worth everything. Christ demands everything.”
Sometimes we intellectualise this challenge without considering the implications. Are you willing to die to yourself everyday in order to live for God? I’m not just talking about whether you are willing to die for Him, for that only requires a moment of brave faith. Are you willing to daily lay down your desires for Him?
For me, the cost is living away from home, family and friends. There are some days where I can physically feel the ache for them within my heart. There are days where I’m tempted to throw missions aside in order to return to the comfort of a 9-5 job. But this is the life to which God has called me. It comes with tremendous blessings, but also tremendous cost. On days when I am counting the cost it helps to recall the cross and the Saviour who gave everything for me. Knowing the love God has for me and what I have inherited as His child enables me to continue.
What is He asking you to sacrifice and will you endure? What keeps you from giving this sacrifice?
Are you desperate to get the Gospel out regardless of the cost? Are you willing to lose everything for the Gospel?
2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.