Justin Tucker, LHBC Worship Pastor
Now great crowds were traveling with him. So he turned and said to them: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
Wherever You lead me
Whatever it costs me
All I want is You
Jesus, all I want is You
In 1865, King Kamehameha V approved The Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy. The decree forcibly relocated Hawaii’s Hansen’s disease patients to Molokai’s Kalaupapa peninsula. Patients were simply dropped off and left to survive on their own in the desolate, lawless place. Catholic patients at Kalaupapa repeatedly pleaded for a priest but due to the lawlessness, violence, and the high risk of contracting leprosy priests were not permitted to go. Finally, in the spring of 1873, the bishop decided that, despite the risk, the peninsula’s patients needed a priest. Father Damien, a Belgian born missionary to the Hawaiian Islands was the first to go to Kalaupapa and the only one that stayed.
Along with meeting the spiritual needs of people on Kalaupapa, Father Damien also bandaged the patients’ open wounds, washed their bodies and dug graves for those that passed away. He established leadership in the community that resulted in the building of houses, schools, hospitals, roads, and churches.
In December 1884, Damien was soaking his feet in a bucket of hot water, when he realized that he couldn’t feel any heat. He immediately knew what was wrong: He had contracted Hansen’s disease. Despite his illness, Damien continued to serve the people of Kalaupapa. Damien died on April 15, 1889, in Kalawao. He was 49. He lost his life to a disease that he contracted from the people he was serving. He is quoted as saying, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.” Sounds kind of like what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-8, But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Father Damien knew the risk that he was taking going into a leper colony. He knew that he was at risk of contracting it. He weighed the cost and ultimately he ended up giving up his life to share the Gospel and serve a group of people that the world had given up on.
The call to follow Jesus isn’t a call that means we only follow Him as long as our lifestyles, our preferences, our comforts are taken into consideration. The call to follow Jesus will move us into a counter-cultural lifestyle. It is a call out of our comfort zones. It is a call into His preferences. For Father Damien, that call cost him his lifestyle, comforts, preferences and ultimately…his life.
What does that call look like for you and I today?
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Heavenly Father, break my heart for the things that break yours. Show me the places in my life where I need to submit to Your will, show me places where I need to die to self and surrender control to You. Thank you for your Son and the sacrifice He made for our sins. Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.