The Cost to Follow

boy looking out window with his two dogs

Sunday afternoon my mom texted me the featured image to this post.  It is a picture of a grandchild of one of their friends.  I loved it!  It is one of those beautiful Kodak moments that could never be caught in a studio.  Makes you appreciate smartphone cameras.  We, like no time in history, are able to capture digitally life’s amazing moments.

Well as I looked at the image, I had deep compassion for my parents.  They too would have to bear the cost of my call to singleness. All of my parent’s friends have for years had grandchildren to enjoy, show off and love.  Actually, most of the people in my life have this joy.  The delight of squeals, discovery and life experience.  There are rare moments in the life of a child that are experienced by grandparents very differently than parents. But my parents will not be able to have this experience.

My calling to be single has closed the possibility of that chapter in their book.  I am compassionate to their plight.  It’s not as if I never wanted a wife and children.  Who doesn’t want to be normal? But God asked this of me, and I bowed and then embraced it.  Though I counted my cost to follow . . . I didn’t consider theirs.  When I was young, it was, “Katy, bar the door.” I was going to follow Christ, and had the passion to drop everything and run.  A young man can cast off restraint, hell or high water. But as I said, my counted cost didn’t at that time include theirs.

So I asked the Lord for a scripture, and He took me to Ruth.  Ruth had to die to her dreams over and over and that included leaving all to follow. First Ruth left her family when she married Naomi’s son.  Then she had to again choose to abandon all her people, as well as her country, to follow Naomi to an unknown land.

So how does Ruth’s voyage parallel mine? I hope in the ending.  Yes, my parents have had to pay a price for me following where He leads.  It must be awkward for them to have to explain me. Of course, people often give me the side-eye too.  The American church has no concept of such a calling to celibacy. I asked some friends recently, who have been all around Christendom, if they had ever met someone in the non-Catholic church with a call to be single. They said . . . no.

So what was the reward of Ruth’s choices, and how did it affect her parents? Well, the end of the story is that her lineage yielded to the enthroning of the King of kings.  Yes, Ruth, a Moabite woman, is in the direct line of Jesus, and her great grandson was King David, whose throne will never end.

The life that follows Jesus where He leads, and accepts the reproach and misunderstanding, will exalt Him.  I believe that I am bringing honor to my parents with the highest reward, one higher than many descendants.  I am living a life that bows to His Lordship, a life that gives way to the King of kings.

It is my belief that all of us who follow where He leads, enthrone the King.  Whether in a call to being single or to be married with children.  It is all about where the Lamb chooses to go in you.  As for His choice in me, I rejoice.

I wish that all were as I myself am.
But each has his own gift from God,
one of one kind and one of another.
To the unmarried and the widows
I say that it is good for them to remain
 single as I am.
1 Corinthians 7:7, 8

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word,
but only those to whom it has been given.
For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and
there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are
those who renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
 The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Matthew 19:11-12

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    • Susan

      LOVE the pic! It does cost EVERYTHING to follow Him but those who put their trust in Christ will not be disappointed. This is the narrow path; He is our inheritance and we are His. I suppose the family of God becomes more dear to us with each passing trial, suffering or rejoicing… but to everything we hold lightly. You are dear to us John.

    • LT

      Thank you for that, John. And thank You for that calling, Lord Jesus – the very real fragrance of that costly ointment has come to be shared with us too. I am reminded again of the little video that has been coupled with the song, “How Beautiful the Body of Christ…” there is a line that is sung “How beautiful the radiant bride” …. while the camera stops for a poignant and adoring moment on the actor who played John the beloved. Have always seen you, John, as representative in that pause. With that perspective, the blessing of Isaiah 54 comes to mind. And to clarify the scripture’s apparent gender focus, the Holy Spirit through Austin-Sparks speaks that it is not singularly for women, but for believers who have indeed paid the price – willing with Him to live on the other side of the cross. “o barren one, you who did not bear, break forth into singing and cry aloud … for the spiritual children of the desolate one will be more than the children of the married wife. Enlarge the place of your tent…Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad…and your offspring will possess the nations …” Hallelujah, Father, and for Your Son’s own obedience in bringing many sons to Glory!

      • shulamite

        was just also prompted to Isaiah 54:13 Amp. “And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will] and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children.” Hallelujah! And the rest of that chapter too is ripe for the taking too …

    • Sam

      John, you have a “rare” seal on you. “Rare” is the word, and “weird” is the outcome. This is: “weird” in as much as the Kingdom is “weird.” Of that same nature of “weirdness.”

      Strange, unusual… rare. Precious. A kind of treasure to be unclosed.

      He makes single people as married, and He makes married people as single. I have seen it in MARRIED people and in SINGLE people too!

      He is “weird”, people. He is strange.

      I will also share something with you, John. I want other people to hear it. I know a man who received a calling from heaven of such a rare and powerful nature that I have not seen anything like that before. Very similar to Paul’s calling.

      This man had a fiancé at the time of that close encounter with God. He knew so well that calling was asking from him the renouncing of getting married. But he didn’t want to take it, so He begged the Lord in tears: “DO NOT TAKE HER AWAY FROM ME, DO NOT TAKE HER AWAY FROM ME.”

      He didn’t take her away from him.

      Well, many years have gone, and the “Calling” has proved itself truthful: His marriage has been a total crux for him in every corner, full of sadness. She never ever understood his calling (she was a catholic all of her life), and he could not get any help from her whatsoever (he has never been boxed in any catholic or non-catholic enviroment). Such a disaster that after some 35 (or 40?) years married, at his old age, already a retired man, at last they splited.

      He now lives as “single”, after many years of being enslaved to a relationship without spiritual blessing.

      I tell you: If you refuse one yoke, you will receive a greater one.

      (Sorry for the long thing.)

    • pearl

      As we enter into the places of giving up our Idols and the things and people we desire..And our silent hopes and dreams…As we surrender ALL to Him…tho the price to follow costs us everything…But look How much we gain…thank you …thought of this song…
      Many of us have to pay the price to give it ALL to Him…He is our prize!!
      Bless you!!

    • pearl

      Ok on a funny note….I saw the photo quickly then read the blog and wasn’t sure what you were saying about a grandchild of one of your parents friends…all I saw were the 2 dogs…so I was confused…then I looked again and saw the childs head there between the 2 dogs…and laughed at my thought originally of well your parents could have a grand-dog then…I heard they are really special too…LOL

      • pearl

        Note to self…must wear glasses when I read blogs from now on!!

        • Sam


          • pearl


    • Alex

      John, this was so touching. Sam made an interesting point about the married as single, and singles as married. It reminded me that Martha recently said on a podcast how you had become a pastor, and so much more. How many rely on you in the ministry and FOR ministry. A great sacrifice, a great YES to Him that has impacted so many people.

    • Pauline

      Oh John, what timing . . . This Sunday is ‘Grandparents Day!’ I bless God for allowing your Mom and Dad to bring forth, nurture and grace us with the future ‘Pa Enslow’–spiritual Dad to so many of us. I hope they read this blog to get just a small glimpse of how many you have touched–whether in person, on the phone, by mail . . . so many lives have been impacted by you, John, because of Christ and not just in the States but all over the world.
      God continues to mold you into a spiritual Dad who walks in integrity: works with his hands, is creative and supportive; a spiritual Dad who works righteousness: teaching his spiritual children to be Godly and wise in spiritual matters that work themselves into practical, daily life; a spiritual Dad who speaks the truth from his heart in love: careful to edify but also speaking the truth regardless of what the listener would like to hear. I have been ‘ouched’ more than once back onto the narrow path and thankful for it.
      Most probably, John, the Father has placed many longings in your heart, like every human being: to be successful, rich, enjoyed–only to pull these away so you could see that all this and more are found only in Him.
      Your great sense of humor is genuine but so is the fact that you are not too proud to cry.
      The compassion of God (as seen in this post) is also evident toward your ‘kids’. . . we don’t always have to hit the ball right to be accepted by you, John.
      This spiritual Dad, created by God to rule and reign with Christ, having been purchased with His Blood; sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit, has been given the life of a giver: his time, his talents, his treasures–first to God whose ear He has to hear what / how / who the Father would like him to bless. (I have been one of the bless-ees.)
      I’m grateful for the example of this spiritual Dad being responsible, committed and under authority.
      But mostly, this single son has a single eye, being a seeker of the Kingdom of God first, which gives his spiritual children a sense of security.
      (Wasn’t there another ‘John’ who addressed his readers as “my little children?”)
      Thanks ‘Pa!’ – Your daughter, in Christ.

      • Sam

        The family of God one day will be revealed as the only true family. I am sorry to say this, but in the Kingdom there are not earthly ties.

        My earthly mum and dad may be there, but ties will be of a different nature. They won’t any longer be my “dad and mum.” Ties of slavery will vanish, and only Ties of Heavens (ties of freedom) shall remain.

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