Patmos Journal – #4

April 8, 2020

As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11

Is it worth it?

I never would have imagined that a hot topic for national debate this month would be the mandatory requirement of wearing a face mask when in public.

When I was a kid, ages ago, probably the coolest news I could have ever received was that I would be ordered to always fix my red bandana over my nose whenever I was around others. Of course, I would have also wanted to don my leatherette holsters containing the twin faux-pearl-handle 6-shooter cap guns to complete my ensemble. Oh, and the cowboy hat. Can’t forget the white cowboy hat.

I have used particle masks for much of my adult life, because I’ve worked in dusty shop and construction environments. I’ve also used respirator masks for catalyst finishes, spray booth work, enameling a cast iron tub, and other toxic fume encounters. Often, I mow and trim with a mask, because I paid to have my nose redone a few years back, and don’t want to carelessly mess it up again. For the curious– it was just necessary septum repairs; damage from a bad-hop grounder when I was a little leaguer. The cosmetic work is yet unscheduled. Paula says we’re going to save up, so we can get my whole face done. Stay tuned for that…

So, I know masks are a good thing. True, it’s not like we’re out just running around right now. You are staying in, except for essential duties and supplies, right? But to hear with passion so much debate about a simple homemade cloth face cover to ward off passing a virus when we are out and about– it’s kind of staggering to me. The bottom line: Is it worth it?

My short answer is “yes,” if only for the reason that it is something. In a time where we still don’t have solid answers on this thing, at least it’s something. If nothing else, it does send a good visual to our neighbors: “I’m doing this for your protection.”  And loving our neighbors sounds like something Jesus once said, right?

“Is it worth it?” I know you’ve posed that question a thousand times in your lifetime, as I have too. The range of situations where we’ve asked that is as huge as the total of our combined life’s experiences: purchases, jobs, relationships, health issues, parenting, marriage (dare I say!), recreational pursuits, and even the challenge of living for Christ when the heat is on… yep, we’ve asked that question a lot.

Our difficulty as mere humans (at least most of us would admit to that) is that we cannot see what lies ahead. We are prone to jump with enthusiasm, but that can fade quickly when difficulties and the storms of life start pummeling our tiny craft. The ease of following Jesus is never presented in God’s Word. Christians are not given a world’s “golden ticket” to health, wealth and ease by virtue of believing in the finished work of Christ. This truth flies in the face of much “gospel” kingdom/prosperity teaching today. For those who submit to such instructors, it is nigh impossible to reason them out, since they did not reason their way into that quagmire.

Jesus answered for His disciples that question on their minds, “Is it worth it?” Is obedience to Christ the right thing, given the cost? We can see our Lord’s answer is for our day as well:

And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30

…saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” 23  And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:22-24

 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 22:12-13

So, it would behoove us to be settled in our heart and mind that indeed, it is worth it to follow Him. Worth it to obey His Word. And, worth it to consistently bear witness to Him through our obedience to His commands, even loving our neighbors as ourselves. If that can be evidenced by wearing my bandana, for the sake of Christ alone, I will do so.

It is a solemn reminder in this Holy Week that the Lord Jesus could have weighed that same question- “Is it worth It?” when it came to the terrific cost that He would bear for our sin. But we see no debate. No weighing of pro’s and con’s. There is but love, and purpose, and obedience, and mission. We, in the astounding, amazing love of God, were worth it.

There was immense, unimaginable suffering. Wrathful separation from the Father, as He took our sin upon Himself. Anguish as He hung on the cross, despised and rejected. The scope of Isaiah 53 is completely focused upon Him, our Suffering Servant, the Messiah, the Redeemer. Our Redeemer.

But get this: He knew. He knew. As that 11th verse states, and I paraphrase, “He saw that through all the grief He would bear, it would be worth it in the final outcome…”

Perhaps in this season, as we contemplate all that we are currently laying down for self, family, community, nation, world, and church, we will be bolstered in our courage and composure by knowing that the Lord is still very much in control. Dying to self and living for others in His Name is to be embraced as the normal Christian life, not just in times of pandemic. Perhaps the Lord is sharpening us all in that point…

He would have us focused on the glorious things that lie just ahead, so that we endure the present trial with resolve and even joy along a hard path, remembering that we are

… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

So mask up, because it is worth it. I might catch a glimpse of you, but I might not recognize you.

Me, I’m the one with the red bandana. And the cowboy hat.