For any missionaries out there, I'm sorry to tell you, that you don't finish with verse 26-27 when you leave America and land in Uganda. . . . thought we checked that box off, only to find it coming back around, again. The same leaving, letting go, counting cost, applies again in the other direction. In fact, it is a life-long process, this consciously agreeing to suffer for something better. To carry the means of our eventual death right in the footsteps of Jesus. I know we have only a shallow glimpse of what this means.
The table is spread, but it is set up by candlelight in the valley of the shadow of death, right in the presence of the Enemy. The feast is offered, but this course at least is served on the battlefield.
A cost is paid because we value the item we are buying more than the money we spend. Cost costs. It hurts, for a while. But the forsaking all to be a disciple is the best bargain ever offered. Bitterness for peace, we keep hearing, by faith.
Our team prayed through this chapter for us this morning, interspersed with many of my favorite team worship songs. Hard and beautiful. The chapter ends with a prayer for saltiness, which is going to be our prayer for our time in America. First, that we would be seasoning, a preserving flavor that is noticeably different, never bland, that we would give people a thirst for Jesus. Second, that we'd be sprinkled in small doses that lend interest and life (hope no one wants to spew us out if we over-stay!).
Salt is necessary at a feast . . and also goes on wounds. Let us hold together the communion paradox of the celebratory meal in the presence of death.