There's always something you give up in the course of an adventure. Always. As much as we wish that adventures were free of pain and loss, that's not the way they work. It's in their nature to be dangerous. Giving something up is the price you pay. It's the bargain you make. It's in the contract you sign on the dotted line. If you set out on an adventure, you will be surrendering something.
Take our hobbits. When Bilbo left Bag End to travel with the dwarves to Erebor, he knew he was leaving his own personal comfort. His snug home was the center of all he had ever known: hearth and fire, food and drink, shelter and warmth, books and ease, even familiarity itself. He had to give all of that up (for a time) when he ran out of his door and onto the Road without even a pocket handkerchief.
Were there times he would wish himself back there? Yes. Of course. He spends much of his time in the book longing to be back home. But he had given it up -- at least for a time. It's the price you pay.
Following Jesus is the biggest adventure of all. And He is very clear that when we follow Him, we are leaving something behind. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37-38). The longing to follow Jesus has to be greater than the love for whatever it is we leave behind.
The truth is that unless Jesus is better to us than everything we leave behind to follow Him, then we will never follow Him at all, because we will not be able to bear leaving those things behind. But if we do not bear and dare to leave them, then we will never have the adventure for which we are made.
This is the bargain. This is the price. This is what's at stake.
We get to pick what we value. We get to choose what gets our love. Will it be connection, family, money, success, security? For me, will it be my singing? Or will it be the One Who offers me His hand and His Self and all the adventure that He is? We get to pick.
When we initially leave everything behind for the adventure, the way we are asked to do -- the way we must do -- we feel as though our hearts will burst. We cannot bear it. We are tempted to turn tail and race back to our warm hearth as quickly as our frail legs will carry us. But then -- oh, but then we are overtaken by a sweet longing for something else -- Him.
We learn that He is everything we've ever wanted, really. We see that the things we gave up were things that only pretended to fill the hole that only He can fill. They were good things, but they weren't really what we wanted.
We wanted adventure. We wanted purpose. We wanted joy.
He is all those things and more.
In Him we find light, joy, music, dancing, justice, sweetness, grandiosity, intimacy, connection, security, contentment, warmth, invigoration, life, adventure.
In Him we find everything we were ever looking for but didn't know we wanted.
When He asks us to give something up, it may be hard to set it down, turn away, and set off from it. But we can rejoice in the knowledge that the adventure that we're setting out on and the Adventure that He is -- these are greater. And they're what we really want.
You have to give up the thing you think you need to get that which you really want. It's the price you pay.
Are we willing to pay it?