Summary: While salvation is delightful, discipleship is often difficult.

Why is the Christian Life So Difficult?

July 20-21, 2019

Rev. Brian Bill

During the past three weeks away Beth and I had days of delight and days of difficulty. The delightful part had a lot to do with our grandsons Pip and Ezra and their mom Lydia as they spent about a week with us.

This time of delight came after two weeks of difficulty while we were at the Cleveland Clinic. Beth and I are so thankful for how many of you prayed for our son-in-law Matt’s open-heart surgery. It was comforting to us and them to know the sweet people of Edgewood were interceding on their behalf.

One truth that sustained them through the surgery and then through two critical complications was a phrase our daughter Emily had been meditating on in the weeks prior to the operation: He already knew! When we heard how much this meant to Emily, Beth asked a friend to create some artwork with this phrase on it and Romans 11:33 underneath: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Here’s a picture of Matt and Emily holding this wall hanging before surgery.

Because the Cleveland Clinic is #1 in the nation for cardiac surgery, there were many others having similar procedures that morning. They have 100 operating rooms and over the last 12 years, 30,000 people have had heart surgeries there!

After Matt and the other patients were wheeled off to the OR, a nurse educator gathered with family members to educate us on what to expect. She spent nearly 45 minutes explaining the challenges and difficulties related to the surgery and recovery and told us there would be additional classes available over the next couple days (which we took advantage of). She described the physical pain Matt would be in and what they would do about it, letting us know they would not be able to take away all the pain. She gave us information about the average hospital stay but also told us not to be concerned if it was longer than that and not to panic if the patient had to go back into the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. This information was really helpful when Matt developed complications and had to go back into the ICU. She reminded us that heart surgery is both life-saving and life-altering.

Isn’t life a bit like our last several weeks? We have times of delight and times of difficulty. The delight of getting a driver’s license can turn to difficulty when you don’t know if you can make your car payment. The delight of that first job can evaporate into disillusionment. Anyone who has done a home improvement project knows early excitement can quickly turn to unexpected challenges.

We’ve had challenges with the Edgewood renovation and expansion project as well. The snow in the fall and the incessant rain in the spring has delayed the parking lot and caused other issues in the building. I’m delighted to report the parking lot was completed this week! Other difficulties include asbestos abatement, out of code wiring and even termites. The good news is without this project we would not have known about these issues which have now been rectified.

I hope you’re planning to attend the Grow Time update next Sunday afternoon at 4 to hear about the progress, receive a financial update and go on a tour of the facility. If you’d like to come, please RSVP on your connection card or call the church office. Approximately 200 have signed up already!

As a way to continue pressing into our four values of gathering, growing, giving and going, we’re repurposing and remodeling the area under the sanctuary and offices for adult Growth Group space as well as a large room for our student ministry. Special thanks to Bob Hartley for heading up this project and to Derrick Laukaitis for his design work. If you have time to help, we could use a number of servants. You can come Monday through Thursday from 8 to 8 or Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 4. We can utilize people with experience in remodeling as well as other servants who are willing to do whatever needs to be done. If you’d like to serve in this way, please contact Marie in the church office, make a note on your Connection Card, or simply show up.

The question we’re tackling today in our Glad You Asked series is, “Why is the Christian life so difficult?” We’re going to see while following Christ is the most delightful decision you’ll ever make, the path of discipleship is extremely difficult. Let’s put it in a sentence: While salvation is delightful, discipleship is often difficult.

As I was listening to the nurse educator explain what to expect related to heart surgery, I realized we do a disservice to young disciples by implying once you ask Jesus to save you, life will become simple. It’s far better to describe the expected difficulties than to declare Jesus will make you happy all the time. It’s more helpful and honest to admit adversity will come than to promise perpetual peace and prosperity. We need to set our expectations according to Scripture or else the difficulties of discipleship will lead to a letdown.

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