It was a very chilly 23 degrees here in the middle of Michigan this morning, bringing with it the first real frost of the season. It kind of puts one in an autumn mood – you want to go shuffling through piles of leaves as the cool breeze gently tugs on those still left on the trees or puttering around in the garden beds putting them to sleep before the blanket of white descends. I’ve pretty much finished the fall chores around the house so this morning was spent with a cup of coffee on the back deck as the sun dappled through the red and orange and yellow leaves as it rose from its resting place in the East. Not a bad way to spend some quiet time in the morning.
Just as this time of year makes me want to clean up the yard and rake some leaves and cuddle up close with loved ones, I also find myself reflecting on the weeks and months that have passed; sifting through memories, clearing cobwebs, and settling my spirit. The change in seasons causes me to reflect on what has been, assess what is in the here-and now, and consider the potential for the future. As I’ve written before, this summer has had its share of mountain tops but also some deep valleys and many intersections without signs showing which way to go. These lowlands take a bit more work to get through…more prayer and fewer random decisions…and often you are left without many answers. Faith is tested and becomes the only real evidence of uncertain outcomes.
A few years back one of my brothers passed away in late July. When I was born in 1968 he was just finishing high school and then went off to Vietnam. After his return he married and by the time I was old enough to even know what a brother was, he was out of the house with his own family. What I do remember about him is the example that he set about what is important in life…and what isn’t. He had a wisdom born of experience and grounded in the belief that there was a God in heaven who loved us all and there was a price that was paid for our souls…and my brother was willing to pay a similar price if needed. He knew where he had been, where he was, and where he was going – both physically and spiritually.
When Jesus tells us in Luke to “consider the cost of building a tower”, the question is not what ‘tower’ are you building, but are you willing to pay the price? And if you are willing, do you have what it takes to get it done? Most Christians I know want to bring honor and glory to the Lord. We want to do his will and please him but often we don’t realize that living for him means dying to self – that is the cost. Being willing to lay aside all that we are and hope to be so that when others look at us they see him. My brother paid that price. Everything I ever knew about him showed that he did his very best to put away his struggles and pains and sorrows so that those around him would be blessed. He did not wear his faith on his sleeve but there was a spark in his eye that let you know he believed. He was a man who laid down his life in many ways and he has left a legacy that points to the Lord.
It is my prayer that in some way I can be that kind of man…I don’t think I’m there yet…
“Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.” (Luke 14:28)