But does that mean mother and father, wife and children, Lord? Yes, even they must be entrusted into my care while you follow me. “Will you trust me?” he asks each one of us.
John White, who was associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba and author of a number of very helpful Christian books, speaks of his own struggle with this demand of discipleship in an extraordinary story from his book, The Cost of Commitment.1 It is worth quoting at length:
Once I had a premonition that my wife and infant son would be killed in a flying accident. We were to travel separately from the U.S. to Bolivia, South America. She would fly via Brazil, Buenos Aires, then north to Bolivia. I was to visit Mexico, several Central American countries, Venezuela, Colombia and other countries, to strengthen Christian work among students, before joining them in Bolivia.
The premonition came with sickening certainty just before we parted on the night of a wild snowstorm. I felt I was a cowardly fool as I drove away and saw Lorrie silhouetted in the yellow light of the doorway, surrounded by swirling snowflakes. Why didn’t I go back and tell her I would cancel the flights? Why didn’t I act on this foreboding?
Yet I felt a fool. I didn’t believe in premonitions—and she would probably laugh. Besides I was late, I had to get to the place where I would spend the night before my early morning flight. Fear, shame, guilt, nausea, all boiled inside me during the miserable drive to my hotel. No conversation was possible with the man who was driving me.
In bed I tossed in misery. Of course I prayed. By faith I was going to have it licked. Faith? In the presence of so powerful a premonition? My mouth was dry. My limbs shook. God was a million miles away. The hours crawled by, each one a year of fear. Why didn’t I get dressed, hire a car and go back to them?
“What’s the matter? Can’t you trust me?”
I was startled. Was God speaking?
“Yes, I’ll trust you—if you promise to give them back to me.”
Then, “And if I don’t promise? If I don’t give them back to you, will you stop trusting me?”
Oh God, what are you saying? My heart had stopped and I couldn’t breathe.
“Can you not entrust them to me in death as well as in life?”
Suddenly a physical warmth flowed through all my body. I think I wept a little. My words came tremblingly and weakly, “Yes, I place them in your hands. I know you will take care of them, in life or in death.”
And my trembling subsided. Peace—better by far than martinis on an empty stomach—flowed over and over me. And drowsily I drifted off to sleep.
Hate them? How could I ever hate them? Yet by faith I had said in effect: I will do your will whatever it costs to me or them, and I will trust you.
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