At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:22 (NLT)
This text is taken from the story about the rich young ruler. In summary, he came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus said, "Keep the commandments." He replied, "I already do." So Jesus challenged him to go deeper and sell everything and follow him. The young man grew sad and walked away.
Often when we look at this story we focus on the fact that he was really rich and we don't apply it to ourselves. We say "Have you seen my bank account? I won't have that problem." And this is where we miss the point.
Our 'thing' may not be riches. It may be status. It may be the security of our stuff. (You can still be focused on your material possessions even if you are not rich.) It may be your job, your marriage, your healthy lifestyle or your image. We could have debt coming out of our ears and still try to keep up the facade that we are fine. We are fooling ourselves if we think this story isn't about us. We all have something that we cling to that makes us feel better about ourselves and puts Jesus in second place...or third....or fourth....
You see at the very heart of the story there is a man who is following God. He feels like he's doing all the right things and he very well may be, but then Jesus shows up and says "Let's take it to the next level." The next level can look like a lot of different things. You may lose that job that gives you security or be stripped of your health. You may have your image tattered by lies or have your marriage fall apart. The 'next level' is the place that you have come to the end of yourself and you have to rely on Jesus.
It's a scary place and if it was left up to us, we won't go there. We will, like the rich young ruler, walk away and choose not to dig deeper into a relationship with Jesus. That's why when we earnestly pray and ask God to take us deeper, he will allow the pain. He will allow the hard path. Because he knows that it is only when we hold on to him and him alone will our faith grow.
I feel sad for the rich young ruler. I feel sad because the only satisfaction he knew was what he could do on his own power. The experience of going deeper with God is so much more exhilarating. To see things happen that you can't explain, to know and trust in that relationship more than anything you can see with your own eyes, that is true power. I don't ever want to walk away from the invitation to be part of that. How about you?