In the early 90’s a good many upscale, professional people escaped from the cities to the country. They wanted a simpler, quieter life. Cities have their own unnerving challenges. But many of these wealthy folks, accustomed to the conveniences of city life, were surprised.
As Patrick O-Driscoll wrote in USA Today, “Your neighbor’s cattle may stink…You may have to haul your own trash to the dump. The mail carrier might not deliver daily, or perhaps not at all. Power or phone lines may not reach your property. The fire department or ambulance may not come quickly enough in an emergency. And, yes, your remote mountain road may not get plowed or paved.”
A lot of these city folks were not ready for these realities. So they called to complain. One county commissioner, John Clarke of Larimer County, Colorado, got so many cranky calls that he finally wrote a 13-page booklet entitled, The Code of the West: The Realities of Rural Living.” In it he warned people about what they should expect if they planned on moving to the country.
For instance, “Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors. What else can we say? If your road is gravel, it is highly unlikely that Larimer County will pave it in the foreseeable future…Gravel roads generate dust…Dust is still a fact of life for most rural residents. The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in case of heavy precipitation. When property owners fill in ravines, they have found that the water that drained through the ravine now drains through their house.”
Clarke said he wasn’t trying to keep newcomers away. He was just being up-front and honest. “We just want them to know what to expect,” he said. In similar fashion, our Savior doesn’t want to keep us away. He just wants us to know what to expect. Jesus doesn’t use the language of modern “recruiters.” He talks about denying oneself, dying to oneself, taking up a cross. His apostles tell us up-front: “We must go through many troubles on our way to the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 EHV).
Likewise, James summons us to patience and perseverance. We may expect that living the Christian life on the job, in our marriage, in our congregation will be a challenge. The devilish temptation is to just give up. Christ wants us to know what to expect. He also wants us to expect that He will always be there to pardon us, to empower us, to lift us up while we live, and to hold our head in His nail-pierced hand when we come to die.