This week we took a mini vacation to the beach. I sent these photos to some of my family and friends while I was soaking up the rays and enjoying God’s creation. The responses I got ranged from, “so happy for you” to “I hate you.” Of course the “I hate you” was from my friend that was stuck at work and was meant in the nicest of ways. It made me realize how most of the times we don’t know the cost behind the highlights we see in people’s lives. I didn’t tell them that the 2.5 hour drive to get there gave me a horrible migraine and instead of getting to hang out with our friends and enjoy the evening I was upstairs in a dark room in relentless pain. Or that the next day when we went to the beach and I took these pictures I had to take a muscle relaxant just so I could keep the pain at bay. Or that I’m now sitting at home alone, unable to attend my daughter’s softball tournament because the trip to the beach took too much out of me. The cost for my picture of paradise isn’t something that anyone would consider. I don’t regret my decision. I enjoyed the time at the beach with my family and friends.

It made me think of other areas in life where we have to weigh the cost versus the rewards. Some are easier than others. Doing the dishes for instance, if I play in the pool all day and leave my dishes stacked in the sink I won’t have any clean dishes and my house will stink like moldy food and it will attract bugs. Nasty. That’s a no brainer, clean the dishes. But what about when someone is addicted to a substance, if you don’t step in you know the results could be devastating to their life, but if you do you might lose your relationship with them. The cost versus reward on that one is a lot harder to balance out. Whenever you step into someone’s life with advice or a warning they don’t want to hear, they don’t usually see the cost for you. They feel attacked. They don’t want to hear the path they are heading down is a dangerous one. They don’t want to know that they need to change.

When my husband mentioned that I shouldn’t probably go to the tournament, I not so lovingly told him I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to have to face the cost of my relaxing day at the beach. I didn’t want to have to pay the cost, I just wanted the reward. I think in today’s day and age we’re told, “You can have it all and do it all. You can be a #1 mom, wife, employee…” and when we can’t we feel like failures. I think we need to stop and take a serious look at what’s most important. There’s a cost to every decision and we need, to the best of our ability, weigh those against the rewards. I knew going into the mini vacation that I might be giving up the tournament. I was hopeful I could do it all but knew that the odds of that were slim. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating but it does take a little of the sting away. I feel like this is something we need to teach our kids too. All they see in the social media posts are their peers winning trophies, scholarship, amazing vacations…but what about all the failures they faced to get there? What about all the games they lost or the times they road the bench? The studying to midnight and cramming for exams? Or the things they had to turn down so they could go on vacation? The American dream, “You can be anything you want to be.” Not without it costing you something. You have to sacrifice something to achieve your dreams. We don’t discuss the cost of success and we’re raising a generation that believes they “deserve” their dreams handed to them on a silver platter. Sorry kids, that’s not the way the real world works. There’s always a cost before you get the rewards.

As I was thinking about all this I was struck by the ultimate sacrifice. If all you were able to see was the pictures I took you wouldn’t know at what cost they came at. It hit me that I don’t fully understand the cost Christ paid for my salvation. I understand the reward but I don’t think I fully grasp the cost, and I probably won’t until I meet Him face to face. I don’t know what it’s like to have all eternity before me, to be all powerful, to be in a place where there is no pain, surrounded by angels worshipping 24/7, not to be trapped in a human body. I don’t know about you but I think this world is a beautiful place. As I sat on the beach and looked at the teals and aqua colors of the water, felt the sun warming my face, the crisp fresh air, the velvety white sand between my toes and the melodic sound of the waves crashing I couldn’t imagine a more amazing place to be. Yet that is just a shadow of paradise, I literally can’t even fathom what He stepped away from to come walk among us. If I could fully grasp the cost that He paid for me, wouldn’t I be willing to give it all for Him? How often do I complain about my lot in life and yet if I could really see that this life is temporary and what is to come is beyond our wildest imagination, I should be on my face with gratitude for all He gave up for me. When I look at scripture the focus isn’t on what the cost was to Jesus but what we are gaining from His sacrifice. Ephesians 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I am the joy that was set before Him. I am the reason he endured the cross. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel pretty small and yet priceless all at the same time. You too are the joy that was set before Him. You too are the reason He endured the cross. You are the reward that made the cost of the cross and setting aside His glory worth it. So let us endure and keep running. Don’t give up. He’s paid the highest cost, now we need to look to Him and finish our race.

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