Foxholes & Followers

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

by: Pastor Lars Janssen

Jesus once told a potential follower, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). He was communicating the implications for those who would choose to follow God. Jesus was describing the cost of discipleship; he was giving a sense of what it means to serve a Master like himself.

In World War I, soldiers took refuge in hastily dug trenches called foxholes. These were  not the foxholes Jesus was talking about in Matthew 8, but the soldiers who used them certainly knew what Jesus meant about the cost of serving. They had followed orders that sent them into the heat of battle and they hid in these foxholes while bullets flew overhead and explosions rocked the earth. In these foxholes, they clung to shreds of hope as the cold earth sapped the warmth from their bodies. They knew that to serve carries a cost. And they paid that cost.

At 11 am this morning, Canadians will pause to remember all of our soldiers and veterans. This is what we do each Remembrance Day. This pause is a sign of respect; a token of thanks; a meagre sacrifice of our time that symbolizes their greater sacrifice. These men and women know what it means to sacrifice. They leave friends and family behind to fight in distant places. They’ve lost brothers and sisters at arms on battlefields. Many have lost their own lives. We pause to remember the cost they pay when we are not there to pay it with them.

In Matthew 8:20, Jesus said that to follow him might leave you without a foxhole—without a safe place to rest your head. To many of us, that sounds terrifying, and it would be if not for the rest of Matthew 8. Those who serve Jesus may endure great hardships, even like our soldiers and veterans, but we face them with the same Jesus who calms storms and dominates demonic forces (Matt. 8:23-34). Christian, you are not alone in paying the cost of discipleship. Jesus walks with you; in front of you.

This morning at 11 am, take the time to pause and remember our soldiers and veterans. Remember those who died, those who survived, and those who still live with the scars of their service. The cost of serving has always been high for our soldiers. So in that pause, remember those who have sacrificed and pray for them.

Pray that God will save those who are not yet his own and hold close those who belong to him. Pray and thank God for our soldiers and veterans. And in that pause, remember that following God is worth every scar—both the scars that we bear and the scars that Jesus still bears. Followers of Jesus do not need foxholes. We have Jesus!

Then, when the silence is done, look around and thank a soldier or a veteran for his or her service. Perhaps even take a moment to bless them with these words:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, Selah, that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You!” (Ps. 67:1-3)

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