If you think all American history is boring, you need to check out the greatest American adventure ever - the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It's attracting all kinds of new attention as its bicentennial approaches - a major public television series, a mini-series, best-selling books. And it deserves all the attention. Just as America bought the Louisiana Purchase and suddenly owned much of the West, President Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to put together an expedition to explore the unknown territory. Imagine 30 men, going where no non Indian had ever gone, seeing what no non Indian had ever seen - like the Rocky Mountains, animals like antelope and prairie dogs, tribes that had ever contacted.
It was Captain Lewis who wrote William Clark and invited to join him "if there is anything in this enterprise which would induce you to participate with me in its fatigues, its dangers, and its honors." Here was Clark's answer - "I will cheerfully join you...and partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues, and I anticipate the honors and rewards." His life was never the same.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "The Greatest Expedition Of All."
As I first read that invitation to the hardships and rewards of a great expedition, all I could think of was a similar invitation I have received from Jesus - and so have you. To join Him in the dangers and difficulties, the honors and rewards of joining His mission on Planet Earth.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 6 - where large crowds are following Jesus. But not because they're willing to pay the price to go where He goes. They're into Jesus as long as He gives them good feelings, miracles, and bread. Jesus decides it's time to clarify what He's all about. John 6:51 - "I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world."
Jesus says, "Folks, this is about giving My life - and you joining Me in it." The response - verse 66. "From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'"
When Jesus laid out the price, most of those who claimed to follow Him left. They still do. But then there is that handful who stay, who say with Peter, "Lord, You're the only one who has anything lasting!" And those few who look at the hardships and still sign on for the expedition are those who will - like the Twelve - will change the world.
Right now, Jesus is calling someone who is listening to join Him in His great mission, His great adventure. But, like Captain Lewis writing to William Clark, Jesus is up front about the "fatigues and dangers" - and the honors that go only to those who will risk it.
You may be hesitating to totally follow Jesus because of how hard it's going to be. Or you may be contemplating bailing out of what God has called you to do because it's gotten harder than you expected. But remember - the easy road never leads to anything that really matters. In fact, Jesus said it leads to destruction. Choose what's cheap and easy and you'll be choosing what's small and insignificant. Choose to follow Jesus on His road of sacrifice and risk, and you'll be choosing the excitement and rewards that only the His radical disciples ever know.
So there before you is your Captain's invitation to join Him in His amazing adventure. It's a choice between the comfortable and the demanding, the predictable and the unpredictable, a life that matters and a life that doesn't. And as you consider the cost of following Christ, consider the cost of not following Christ. It costs a lot more not to follow Him.