“Was it worth it?” I think many of us ask that question as we come to the end of a long project. Was it worth the time and the effort? We look at how we changed. We look at the results of our work. We think of how this work will affect other people, especially our own children and then we make a judgment. Still, there is that lingering doubt for many of us. We consider many such projects at the end of our life and then ask the supreme question of life: was it worth it?
John the Baptist didn’t use those exact words. He was sitting in a prison, though, preparing for his execution. He had spent most of his short life preaching a message of repentance to all people to prepare them for the Messiah. In that preaching he called people out for their sins: Roman soldiers, tax collectors, religious leaders and then, perhaps forgetting himself, he called out the king for his sin. That might be something like playing chess with a Wookie. Sitting in prison John’s disciples visited him and told him about what Jesus was doing. John sent two disciples to Jesus to ask a very important question. “When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”’” (Luke 7:20)
John’s faith wavered. That’s not hard to imagine. There he was, sitting in prison because he had stayed true to God. He had treated the king like he treated everyone else. Maybe he expected special protection from God for doing that. Ever find yourself thinking like that. “Oh God, I served You well yesterday. Make good things happen today.” And then your world caves in? John’s faith wavered and he sent disciples to check with Jesus. God treats wavering faith in funny ways. When his dad’s faith wavered, he was struck mute until John was born. When John’s faith wavered, Jesus had one answer for the disciples: tell him what you’ve seen. The miracles were undeniable and irrefutable. I think Jesus was reminding John that He was everything that John had proclaimed was coming.
Then, when the disciples of John left, Jesus turned to the crowd and praised John. Wavering faith doesn’t gain an automatic rebuke from God. In fact, I think God understands wavering faith better than most Christians. God treats our wavering faith with mercy and grace. There have been times when I have given up on God. I didn’t just ask “Is it worth it to follow You, God?” I told Him that I knew it wasn’t worth it and I would stop following Him. There was no lightning in response to my words. I didn’t feel the earth shake from God seeking to swallow me up for my lack of faith. Instead, His gentle love drew me back to Him. Now, I can answer the question of “was it worth it to follow Jesus?” The answer is found in the joy I have in life, a strong marriage that has lasted over 37 years, 3 amazing kids and 2 wonderful grandkids, the opportunity to share my love of Jesus with others, an amazing church, and friendships that survive every storm. Has it been worth it to follow Jesus so far? Yes. Will I continue to follow Jesus? Yes. Will I continue to share His love and invite others to follow Him? A thousand times yes. There is nothing greater in this life than to walk with Jesus.
Oh Lord, there are times when I wonder if You would say that I was worth all the trouble. Yet, You love me and You treat me with grace. When I look at my life with You and ask “was it worth it?” the only possible answer is “Yes” with a large portion of gratitude. Let me share a life that’s worth it with others who need that hope.