Having been a hopeless entrepreneur all my life, I have always looked for ways to stay busy—and to make a little money while I’m at it. From taking on an afternoon newspaper route in the third grade until now, work has been my constant friend.
In college, I decided not to take a traditional job like washing dishes in the dining commons, but in order to have some walking-around cash in my pocket, I needed to do something. So I looked for other ways of creating that old dependable revenue stream. If you had been a Taylor University male student in the late sixties, you would have been able to visit Room 215 in Wengatz Hall and buy custom-made, pinpoint Oxford dress shirts; flowers for those special dates; or a diamond ring if those dates turned out very, very well. My roommate was extremely patient with all of this merchandising.
I noticed something interesting about pricing these things. When a college man was going to buy a shirt for himself, he was fairly careful about how much this was going to cost him. (“How much for a monogram? I think I’ll pass.”) And when he was shopping for a corsage, he usually held back on being too exorbitant. (“Let’s get the smaller orchid.”)
But when he had decided on a lifelong companion and was going to slap a diamond on her hand, he went crazy. He lost all sense of what he could afford—and what would be reasonable to spend—given his current net worth. He should have known better, but he didn’t . . . which, of course, pleased the diamond merchant in Room 215.
Love is a wonderful thing.
Every time I think about the guys in the Bible who completely liquidated their portfolios to buy the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price, I remember my college friends who were so unbelievably committed to their girlfriends that they were willing to go for broke. These usually intelligent men were so in love that they were completely reckless with their hard-earned money.
The Gospels are filled with stories about people who, when confronted with the truth of the Savior, did what no one expected them to do. Some left their careers to follow Jesus. Some faced the ridicule of their friends. And some even gave their lives. This sounds even more radical than a broke college senior going for the one-carat brilliant round-cut, doesn’t it?
The words that fill the pages of your Bible may threaten your security. If taken seriously, they could even shake the solidarity of your plans for the future. These words may have serious implications regarding your job, your habits, your friends, or your net worth—or your life. In the end, that shouldn’t be a problem.
There’s one thing I forgot to mention. Perhaps the happiest moments I can remember from my college career—not counting midnight trips to the Pizza King in Hartford City—were the faces of the men when I delivered their flawless diamonds to them. They had cashed it in for these marvelous little crystalline rocks; it would take them years to pay the bill, and they were absolutely delighted with the wisdom of their investment.
Jesus calls us to embark on the same dangerous adventure—to be irrevocably captivated with following Him. The payoff is a sure thing. What other explanation could there possibly be for the myriad of faithful men who have gone before us?
This week, I held the spear that a savage thrust through the body of a 29-year-old missionary named Jim Elliot in 1956, killing him instantly. Several years before becoming a martyr for the Gospel, Jim had written these words: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
The price you and may “pay” for following Christ is well worth it. The full-on experience of God’s grace is a wonderful thing . . . no matter what.