A quartet of musicians with guitar, accordion, double bass and tambourine arrived on the scene and started serenading folk at the various tables. They quickly surrounded my wife and began singing, all smiles, to ‘ze beautiful laydee’.
On another occasion it could have been an unwelcome intrusion but hey, we were on holiday, so I stood up, borrowed the guitarist’s battered hat and launched into ‘O Sole Mio’. After all, it’s not every day a fella’ gets the chance to sing to his girl with a full backing band. The accordion player instantly switched to the tune and together we turned out a pretty fine rendition.
Well, seemingly they didn’t want me for their new lead singer and, retrieving their hat proceeded to ask for payment.
It wasn’t a problem. It was all very lighthearted and it gave my wife and I and the other people at the café a lot of smiles and laughter, but still it holds a good lesson.
For whatever opportunities we might be thinking of grasping today, or any day for that matter, will most likely come at a cost. The grass is part green and part yellow both sides of the fence and neither side is free. Our choices and actions have consequences, and sometimes the cost may be more than we want to pay!
The Old Testament has any number of sobering tales of people who paid dearly for unwise choices. No wonder Moses in Deuteronomy chs 28–30 gives long lists of blessings and curses and urges the people to ‘choose life’ in obedience to God.
In the New Testament crowds of people were following Jesus ‘sort-of’, in that they were accepting His generous invitation to join in God’s ‘kingdom’, happy to tag along for stories, free food and miracles. But were they prepared to be real disciples?
So in fairness the Lord challenged them to ‘count the cost’ of following Him. Were they prepared to put Him first, even before family? Were they prepared to face hardship, to ‘carry their cross’ like the Master? There would be times they might feel they couldn’t go on or finish the task. Other times when the opposition would seem too strong. They could find themselves feeling burnt-out and barren, after the initial thrill was gone.
Count the cost, says Jesus in Luke 14 v 25-35.
Ok then, people ask, what might we have to give up to be a real follower of Jesus?
Corrupt business practice? Of course.
Immoral relationships? Those too.
Proud self-reliance? The list gets longer.
In fact the Lord lays it on the line here in v 33 saying we basically have to humbly surrender everything to do this right. Give it all over and let Him remove, reorder and reboot!
For many it’s too big a price and they turn back, but they’ll never be satisfied with mere stuff ever again.
But here’s the thing - for those who persevere, who decide Jesus is worth trusting whatever the cost, there are liberating, rewarding discoveries to be made!
For example that our generous Father in Heaven delights to provide for His beloved children – everything we need and more!
But that is mere surface detail.
Serving Jesus as His disciples is actually making us better people, more thankful, more kind, more at peace with ourselves and others.
And following Jesus, even should it involve suffering in the short term, is THE path of everlasting life and love. Purpose, forgiveness, reconciliation, Heaven, they’re all here. Perhaps the question should be - can we afford not to follow Him?
So yeah, make sure and count the cost of your decisions today. As regards Jesus many of us have already made up our minds.
Everything? He’s definitely worth it!
(I wish to remain married so therefore cannot share here any pics or recordings of our musical encounter on the Via Cavour. We’ll just have to settle for a different version of the same tune by these gentlemen, filmed in Pavarotti’s hometown Modena Italy, 13th September 1994.)