I never met Kara Tippetts. But, when I learned on Sunday that her body had given up the fight against the cancer that had taken so much from her, I sat on my couch and cried. I grieved for her. For her family. For her friends. I mourned the loss of a clear-speaking voice in a chaotic world. And, I cried because I imagine that, like most mothers, one of her biggest fears in life was leaving her children before they were ready.
I have seen just a few of the ways that Kara’s illness and death glorified God. I know that His will was done. I know that He was lifted up, held high before men and women as a good God. Yes, even in this devastation, she could say, My God is good. And a weary world stood up to take notice.
But, I felt a question building up inside of me: why is so much required of some of us for the glory of God? Why was so much required of Kara? Of her sweet children? Why were they called to do the hardest thing in order to bring glory to His name? Why couldn’t they go on glorifying Him in the ways they had before her illness? By serving Him? By loving others? Why, of all things, did He require this sacrifice in order to accomplish His will?
And, then I realized that only one thing is required of any of us:
The man ran toward Jesus, an expression of sincere urgency on his face. Oh, great teacher! Tell me what I must do to inherit eternal life!
He fell to his knees with little regard for the expensive clothes that he was wearing. He looked up at Jesus with pleading eyes.
Jesus loved him.
But, what He asked was too much. The answer to the man’s question was just taking things too far. Go and sell all of the things you own. Give all of your money to the poor.
The man’s face fell. He walked away with a sad shake of his head, knowing that he could not give up everything, even though it was what Jesus required. He trudged back to his beautifully appointed house and shut the door on his chance to be with Jesus.
This is what it means to follow Christ: He pours His righteousness over us like a salve. And, we pour out our everything at His feet.
So much was required of Jesus. He understands the fear. The dread. The prayers that things might be accomplished in some other way. And, He knows what it feels like to look into the heavens and declare to God, Not my will, but yours be done.
Everything is yours, God.
I have always had hope that the rich man went home, stewed for a few days over what Jesus had told him, and then went right out and sold everything he owned to give it to the poor. I have pictured him joyfully following Jesus, wearing the one article of clothing that he had left. Because he decided having Jesus was worth more than having anything else that he ever loved.
This free gift of God through Jesus turns out to be costly. For all of us. If anyone wants to be my disciple, Jesus tells his followers, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Being a Christian is a daily exercise in handing your everything over to Him.
People die every day. Plenty of mothers have died young. Plenty have left precious children behind. But, not all have willingly given up their everything with God’s purposes in mind. With His eternal perspective etched in their heart. Kara taught us the art of dying well. Her life was a cross-bearing example of how to lay your everything at the feet of Christ and trust Him to do the very best things with it.
This is what was required of Kara. And, it’s what is required of you and me. The question is, will we choose today to let go of our everything to grab hold of Christ?