November 20, 2019
Whatever It Takes
My husband and I have been asking ourselves, what would mean for us to give the first and best of our time, of our talent, and of our treasure.
For more than 20 years, we had an unspoken motto: We were fully committed to doing whatever it takes to care for any foster child in our home. We sacrificed hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of free time, hobbies, friendships, date nights, even family vacations for one child. And then for the next child, and then for the one after that. This is what it meant for us to give the first and best of our time.
Caring for these children was our passion, the joy of our heart. It was such an honor to care for the sickest, the weakest, the most broken and frail, and then to experience the thrill of watching them grow and thrive. Of course, having a child who was frequently in the hospital, or who was connected to life-saving equipment at home, or who struggled with unpredictable and destructive behaviors meant that we were unable to serve in church ministries or teach Sunday School classes or lead Bible studies. But it did mean that we were doing what God had called us and uniquely gifted us to do. This is what it meant for us to give the first and best of our talent.
Earlier this year, when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, our motto suddenly, by necessity, switch directions. Now instead of doing whatever it takes to care for a foster child, we became committed to doing whatever it takes for me to fight cancer. For me to find healing and wholeness.
Every month, in addition to the hours spent planning, purchasing and preparing nutritious foods; and in addition to the hours spent exercising and receiving alternative treatments; we spend hundreds of dollars on products that will cleanse toxins, alleviate pain, bolster deficiencies, promote calmness, and strengthen immune systems. There are Chinese herbs, nutritional supplements, vitamins, and essential oils. As the cancer continues to grow, we are researching every available treatment option.
There are multitudes of books, DVD’s, webinars, conferences, and retreats available, all claiming to have the “secret” cure for cancer. There are nutritionists and naturopaths and holistic practitioners, some genuinely wanting to help, some preying on patients’ fear, all claiming to have unique healing protocols that offer hope. And all that costs hundreds of dollars, and none that are covered by medical insurance.
And then there are the big leagues: the cancer centers in Mexico that offer innovative, non-toxic cancer treatment and latest breakthrough therapies – none of which are approved or available in the United States. They all look so promising, and the testimonials of cancer survivors who have been treated there are so encouraging, so tear-jerking and inspiring.
However, and this is a huge however . . . these clinics come at a steep cost. Extravagant fees for treatment that may or may not work. With absolutely no guarantees.
And yet, despite the outrageous costs, my husband and I are carefully researching and praying about these options. My cancer is stubbornly and relentlessly continuing to grow. Everything that I am doing for my health is clearly not enough. We are seriously considering these exorbitantly-priced cancer centers because we truly want to do whatever it takes for my healing. How can we put a price limitation on health? On my life?
We have recently been challenged with another, infinitely more important question, however. Not, Will you do whatever it takes for your foster child? Nor, Will you do whatever it takes for your health? But this question:
Will you do whatever it takes to reach all people?
We have spent many years, almost our entire married life, giving the first and the best of our time. But now, we don’t know how much time I have left. Months? Years? We are simply unable to join a church-planting team or take on a leadership position or commit to a long-term ministry. Those roles require time, a resource which I may no longer have.
And we have spent many years giving the first and best of our talents. Using our gifts to love and serve and nurture the most vulnerable children in our community. But that season is over now, and we are still deeply grieving the loss of it. Still asking ourselves, What now?
Well, after having given the first and best of our time and our talents, what about our treasure? What about the resources that we have? How are we investing the financial assets that we have been given?
Here are the questions we are asking ourselves . . .
We have been determined to do whatever it takes for me to find healing . . . are we equally determined to do whatever it takes to reach all people?
If we are willing to spend hundreds of dollars each month on herbs and supplements and vitamins and essential oils so that I may be physically healed, shouldn’t we also be willing to spend hundreds of dollars each month so that others may be spiritually healed?
If we are considering spening outrageous amounts of money for non-toxic medical treatments and therapies that could potentially treat me – just one person – are we equally willing to consider spending outrageous amounts of money that could potentially reach many? Resources that could offer many, not just a few years of physical health, but could offer them peace with God for all of eternity?
How much does forever cost? How can we put a price limitation on the soul of someone who is lost? On the eternal life of someone who has never heard the name of Jesus?
The Lord . . . bestows His riches on all who call on Him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those
who preach the good news!”
In order for someone to call on the name of the Lord and be saved, first he needs to believe. But before he can believe, he needs to hear the gospel, the good news of God’s love and grace and forgiveness. But before he can hear, someone with “beautiful feet” needs to preach. To go, across the ocean or across the street, to preach and share and explain. To serve and lead and love. But before he can go, he needs to be sent.
My husband and I are unable, at this season of our lives, to go. But does that mean that we should sit on the sidelines? Do nothing? Or can we continue to say yes to what God had called us and uniquely gifted us to do?
What if we would be willing to give the first and best of our treasure, not so that we could go, but so that others could go? So that others, those who are in a different season than us, those with more time and talents to give, might be inspired to say yes to what God is calling them and has uniquely gifted them to do? So that others might be equipped and trained and sent to share the good news of God’s love to those who so desperately need to hear it? So that they might have the resources to go – across the ocean or across the street – to preach and share and engage, to serve and lead and love, maybe even opening their own hearts and homes to the most vulnerable children in our community? What if, instead of being the willing goers, we could become the generous senders?
What if we prayed just as fervently, not only that I would be physically well, but that many would be spiritually well?
What if we were just as committed to do whatever it takes, not only so that I might possibly find healing in the name of the latest breakthrough therapies, but so that many might assuredly find healing in the name of Jesus? So that those who are broken might find wholeness? So that those who are in bondage might find freedom? So that those who are orphaned might find a family. So that those who are filled with shame might find forgiveness and peace and joy that can only come from knowing Him?
What if we invested our resources, not only so that I would have an opportunity to live, but so that all would have an opportunity to truly live. So that all would have an opportunity to hear and believe. So that all might call on the name of the Lord.
And so we are asking ourselves: Are we willing to do whatever it takes?
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal,
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.