Even though following the Lord comes with a price (and in some countries and circumstances that price is much higher than in others), it never comes with regrets.
At the recommendation of our eldest son, my husband and I started watching The Chosen, a brand new series on the life of Jesus.
The episodes of Season One have been completed, and it’s quite refreshing to watch, even though equally thought provoking. The director and screenwriter have decided to look at the narrative from a different perspective than what we have been used to so far, and it opened up conversation among those who have been watching it.
It’s interesting how in following the main story line Bible readers are so familiar with, they “mixed in” what we know of that culture from history books and archeological explorations.
One episode caught my attention in particular. It’s the one where Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish Ruling Council, who has been already shown as watching Jesus and his ministry “from a close distance”, gets to finally sit down with Him, and have a longer one-on-one discussion - as we read in John 3.
Nicodemus was a great man, had influence and was revered, and we see him now genuinely trying to understand Jesus’ mission. Their meeting ends with Jesus’ invitation to Nicodemus to follow him, and to join him and his traveling companions as they set out for ministry.
Jesus also tells him the place where they will all meet, in Capernaum. The scene ends but not before the viewers are allowed to see how Nicodemus is trying to make sense of it all.
“This all leads to the most haunting and tragic moment of the series thus far,” says author Rozann Lee in a recent blogpost.
“Episode 8 follows the Apostles as they gather, preparing to leave Capernaum on their way to Samaria—the public ministry of Jesus on its first tour. And as you hear the Apostles count heads, you can see Nicodemus around the corner in agony, knowing the invitation has been offered . . . and knowing he won’t take it. Peter then finds a purple bag of gold coins that was tossed by Nicodemus toward the group, a recognition of Jesus and his invitation, but a meager and somewhat sad response to that summons to an adventurous, self-forgetful new life. Jesus’ face betrays his disappointment as he laments under his breath, 'You came so close.' "
How My Dad Did More Than "Come Close"
Even though it was many years ago - 38, to be exact - I still have vivid memories of that period of my life like it was yesterday.
I was blessed to be born and raised in a God-loving and God-fearing family, with parents who loved me and my two siblings dearly, and were always looking out for our good, praying for us. I had a pretty uneventful childhood, aside from some health issues, but since my father was a medical doctor, things were kept under control with treatment and frequent check-ups.
This was Communist Romania, prior to the Revolution in December 1989, and things were pretty good for those who had respected jobs. Doctors were highly respected in general, and since we lived in a fairly small town, many people knew my dad, and so I enjoyed the benefits which came with that.
The World As I Knew It Was About to Change
But the world as I knew it was about to change, and rather dramatically - at least that’s how I, as a 10-year-old, perceived it.
It was the fall of 1981 when my dad [Dr. Nick Gheorghita] received a phone call from the Elder’s Board of a Baptist Church in Oradea, some 200 miles away from my birth town. As I am sure you can imagine, Baptists (and all Evangelicals) were not appreciated by the Communist regime who had proclaimed the “death of God,” among other things.
Dr. Nicholas and Cornelia Gheorghita, Romania
My dad and my mother took time to pray, and to my disbelief, they decided to answer the call of God and step forward in faith. That meant dad had to resign being a medical doctor, and we had to move away from the town and the loving people I held most dear to my heart.
The image of my dad saying “yes” and starting ministry under such uncertain circumstances stands in stark contrast to Nicodemus’ agony presented in The Chosen (indeed, fictionalized, but still presented to make an overall point in the story).
My dad said “yes” and though months and years which followed were very hard, there was never regret over it, nor the agony of “being so close, yet so far.” My dad had everything going for him as a doctor: he was respected, loved and appreciated. He got to “mingle” with the town’s high officials, and his advice was listened to.
Many of His Friends Thought He'd "Lost His Mind"
The same people who respected and appreciated him today, could not understand my dad tomorrow, as he took the decision to give up his job - and leave his comfort zone. Many of his doctor friends thought he had “lost his mind”.
Still, very few told him they admired his decision.
“I envy you: you KNOW what you are living for,” one even told him. Though the following years were hard for me - the move, the new city, the new school and having to make new friends, and constant hassle from the Communist authorities - I have no regrets.
What seemed like my greatest loss became my greatest blessing. My dad’s commitment to the Lord and ministry had a strong impact on me during my formative years, and that shaped the “story of my life” as I am currently serving in family ministry in our church, and have been doing this for the past twenty years.
And even though following the Lord comes with a price (and in some countries and circumstances that price is much higher than in others), it never comes with regrets. God always sustains and upholds those who serve Him, and blesses those who trust Him and put their future in His hands.
About the Author
ITMI's Ema Ban lives and ministers in Romania alongside her husband, Adrian. Together, they serve and build up the Romanian church, equipping it for a life of following Jesus and reaching others for Him through their pre-marital seminars and young couples' fellowship groups. The Bans have three grown sons.
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