Rock Face

Mt. Rushmore

As impressive as it is, the monument of 4 U.S. presidents at Mount Rushmore was never finished.  Visitors to the monument can view a replica of the original concept, where the presidents’ torsos were intended to be carved into the mountain, not just their heads.

Given just this information, one might think that this would be a monument to “lack of preparation”, rather than a tribute to these presidents, since funds ran out after only the faces were carved into the side of the mountain.  However, this project proved to be an exception to the usual rule.  Enough of it was completed to make the designer’s point, and the project made it to a good, workable “stopping point”.

Outside of exceptions like this, though, most incomplete projects serve as fodder for the mockers, who want to make fun of builders’ short-sightedness (or, maybe they just want to make fun of anyone – don’t be like that; see Psalm 1:1).

For instance, if a famous builder were to start construction on a new building, and leave it half-finished (unable to be used or lived in), he or she would probably become a laughingstock in the community, and the building would become a blight in its neighborhood.  That builder would be unlikely to land many new building permits or development opportunities for some time…at least, not without having the funds on deposit, in full.

Jesus warned about those who rushed to follow Him without understanding the cost.

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
Luke 14:28 NASB

Why is this important?  Keep reading in that chapter from Luke.

Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
Luke 14:29‭-‬30 NASB

Imagine someone following Jesus in the first century.  I envision this person telling all of his or her friends about Jesus, and making it clear to anyone who would listen that, “I’m following Jesus”.  (You can find this sort of passion in sports fans, for instance, whose belongings – everything from their coffee mugs to the pennant in their front yard – has their team’s colors and logo.)

But, Jesus didn’t call people to be fans*, or just post His name on their Facebook pages.  He called them to imitate principles from His life, and to share His message.  Sometimes, this required some personal sacrifice.  For those who couldn’t overcome their attachment to other things (Luke 18:18-27), I imagine that they regretted their earlier enthusiasm.  I don’t doubt that their friends poked some fun at them as they fell away from their original passion.

This is unfortunate, since the Christian walk – following Jesus’ example and teachings, and accepting His payment for our sins – is rich and full and rewarding (in ways that we were created specifically for).  However, for those that sign up and then later lose interest or fall away, the world has plenty of ridicule in store.

If this describes you, be encouraged: God would be happy to have you back, and His forgiveness exceeds our shortcomings.  It’s not too late to step back up and re-commit to the adventure that results from following Jesus.  Even the apostles ran away when Jesus was taken into custody, and went into hiding after his crucifixion.  This was probably not what they had expected when they chose to follow Jesus, despite Him telling them about the cost.  However, like the apostles (who later became world-changers for Jesus), we can get back on track.

On the other hand, if you are excited about the new life you can have in Jesus Christ, great!  I encourage you to keep that enthusiasm, while studying the purpose to which He calls each of us.  Lean into what Jesus calls you to do, rather than seeking out a shortcut or just doing what you think would be easiest.  Boldly take on His teachings, not because you need to earn anything, but because the joy and the rewards are worth the effort.

A section of the book of Matthew, sometimes called the Sermon on the Mount, is a great place to start.  Begin in Matthew 5, and keep reading for a few chapters.  Jesus makes it clear that the Christian walk isn’t about following rules – it’s about aligning our hearts to God, following the right example (Jesus), and doing the right things because we love God and love people – not just because of rules.

After all:

  • Enthusiasm without direction is like a garden hose flopping about in the yard.
  • Enthusiasm with Sprit-led, divine guidance is a powerful agent for positive change.

Count the cost, and then make the investment!


See also:


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

  • Here’s a link to a popular book on this subject:  I don’t get any commission – or even recognition – for sales of this book.  I just went through it via a video series with some friends, and was challenged to live more for Jesus Christ, rather than just claiming an association with Him.

5 thoughts on “Mt. Rushmore”

  1. Good points, but following Jesus doesn’t just mean following his principles or his example. He’s a real person, a really present here-and-now person, with a mind and a voice, an itinerary and an agenda. If you’re a believer, you’re his container. His vehicle. So take him where he wants to go and do what he wants to do today, whatever little thing that is. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for posting this important reminder. When Jesus taught about the cost of following Him, He wasn’t referring to a self-help philosophy or a new trend, but about following Him – the eternal God who became human to save us, and who intercedes for us. May we never reduce following Jesus to mere rules or words. He is alive, and – unlike Mount Rushmore – His work continues to build new lives in us and in all who walk with Him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thinking of your post, and Bette’s and your replies, especially your statement, “For those who couldn’t overcome their attachment to other things (Luke 18:18-27),” I was reminded of John 6:60-66 ending with many leaving off following Jesus, because it was “too hard.”

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.