This weekend David and I made a trip to South Carolina to spend time with his sister and her kids while her husband is away at military officer training. For some reason, the further south we got, the more I started to miss our time in Columbia. Moving to Bluefield at the end of July was the beginning of a wonderful season, but it also marked the end of a special chapter in our lives. I lived in Columbia for nearly 15 years, and it’s still the city my family and many of my closest friends call home. I enjoyed facilitating weekly Bible studies, and I loved coaching middle school basketball. I was privileged to attend and work for an outstanding university. As I reminisced, the hot South Carolina sun was beating down on the car, the sky was clear, and the grass couldn’t have been greener. Underneath my sunglasses, my eyes started to fill with tears, because in so many ways, it felt like South Carolina was saying, “Welcome back home.”
Throughout the weekend we had a blast with family, and I was even able to see a couple dear friends. My heart felt full and refreshed. Everything clicked back into place, and it almost seemed like we never left. Almost. Which is why I began to wonder what I’d do if I could do it all over again. If I was transported back to this time last year, would David and I again commit to leave our hometown, our family, and our friends to serve unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place?
And the answer is: absolutely.
When we left South Carolina, we left people and activities that we genuinely loved. But here’s the thing: there’s something – Someone – we love more than everything we left behind. It doesn’t matter what’s on the other side of the scale, love for Jesus outweighs it every time. It’s like having a boulder on one side of a scale and a feather on the other – there’s not even a contest. As much as I love my family and as great as my friends are, I love Jesus more. And when there comes a time to choose, well, there’s not really a decision to be made.
We left South Carolina because we love Jesus more than we love our families. We left South Carolina because we love Jesus more than we love our friends. We left South Carolina because we love Jesus more than we love feeling at home.
It’s like what Jesus said in Luke 14:26 or what Paul said in Philippians 3:8, when it comes to knowing, loving, and following Jesus, there is no legitimate competition. Sometimes in our brokenness we turn to things other than Jesus. We think something could be better than knowing Him. We think there’s joy to be found outside of following Him. But at the end of the day, deep down in our hearts, we’ve got to be convinced that Jesus can’t be rivaled. Boulders outweigh feathers.
Following Jesus is costly, but it’s love for Him (produced by His grace and love toward us) that motivates and sustains us even when He leads us down a difficult or unfamiliar road. Though following Jesus may mean separation from family, friends, and the familiar, it’s actually allegiance to Him that most unites His people. I share my first Love with my family and friends who know Jesus. We are united by Him whom we love most of all. By following Him even when He leads us in separate directions, we are closer together than we could ever be if we stayed in the same place. By loving Jesus more than we love each other, we couldn’t possibly have more in common.
By His grace, I want to follow Him for the rest of my life – whatever, whenever, wherever. Jesus is worthy.