“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
I rarely turn down food that did not require me to front any cash, and can therefore understand why one may wonder how this phrase came to be. Most often, I have heard this phrase used almost interchangeably with the phrase, “What’s the catch?” We are prompted to be suspect of the generosity that is implied, and, while that is a valuable lesson, what I have found instead is a deeper understanding of my attitude and relationship with God.
Regardless of the motive of the one providing the “free lunch,” we, as the receivers of the “free lunch,” are paying for it. The price is opportunity cost; the value of every alternative we are turning down by making a choice. For example, I offer to buy you whatever you like off the menu if you join me in going to Sonny’s. Imagine, the joy of barbeque without the impact on your wallet. After accepting my offer your friend makes a similar offer but they are going to get sushi. Now your decision to go to Sonny’s has cost you the spicy tuna roll you would have ordered at the other restaurant. Perhaps you hate sushi, and avoiding that meal sounds good to you, but you have also cost yourself the option of going home and not having to spend time with me at Sonny’s. I could go on, but I will spare you with a summary; saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to others. The alternative is also true, even to say “no” to making a choice is saying “yes” to delaying a decision.
We already know this though. We are doing this in every moment, deciding to go to our friends’ house rather than staying home, choosing to water our plants rather than letting them die, and so on. Such things may seem small but we use the same process on a grander scale and often with more difficulty.
I recently made the decision to quit my job at the Lord’s prompting. I thought that it would be easy following God, finally knowing what He wants me to do in life. I couldn’t believe that I had this opportunity, but just as soon as I had it I was painfully aware of what I would be giving up to follow Him. I looked around me and saw the life I had built so far. There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong or sinful that I needed to escape, really it just wasn’t God’s end goal for me. Even though I had wanted to serve God my whole life, when I finally had a specific direction I became selfish and mourned the loss of the other options. At this time I understood how difficult it is to not only say “no” to temptation but to say “yes” to God’s plan. I had grown accustomed to the idea that I would work in a certain field and just live my life for Jesus as best I could, but now I need to move, I need to start over, and I need to learn new things. I am so thankful that this is the case, but it wasn’t easy taking that first step to quit, and the time after letting the pieces fall has required direction and faith.
I think about people who have already taken the step to leave the life they’ve always known to go and share the gospel. The joy of knowing that God has a purpose for you is unlike anything I’ve ever known, but somehow it’s still easy to fall into feeling alone or thinking, “maybe this is as far as I was meant to go.” Making it through the seconds or hours or months between now and the next step can be the most difficult. Without dependence on God and the support of brothers and sisters in Christ, it can be tough to keep saying “yes” to God when He is asking for your all.
So this is my challenge to you, dear reader, if you feel you are on autopilot, try to see the choices you have been given. Our God is mighty and all knowing but still lets us have a say in how we live. This is our chance to show stewardship, not just with physical wealth but with our hearts and minds. Also, when you look at others, especially those serving in ministry, try to see what they have had to give up. It may be time with their family, a consistent church home, the willingness to say “yes” to their own daily needs. Pray and partner with one another. When we operate as the family of God and bear one another’s burdens, or “share the bill” so to speak, we are strong and God is glorified. In saying “yes” to the Lord’s prompting, we can be part of what lessens the cost to someone else who has already done the same and in saying.
Verses for thought and inspiration:
1 Samuel 15:22