This story is inspired by Mark 10:17–22, Jesus and the rich man.
I had to walk away. Was he kidding? No way could I give up my comfortable life and spacious home! I love my clothes and collections and my small luxuries.
I love eating food others prepare and walking away from clean-up. I enjoy all sorts of entertainments—and none of these are bad. I am a God-fearing man who keeps every commandment. I just happen to have the ability to buy almost anything I want.
I take for granted going first. Perhaps it’s selfish, but we who are wealthy deserve our blessings, right? That’s what I learned growing up.
Why should I wait in line? I saw nothing wrong with running up to Jesus and interrupting. I had a burning question, and I needed an answer. It made perfect sense to seek an answer from Jesus, since I believe him to be the long-awaited Messiah.
I’ve slowly changed my attitude since I asked Jesus what I must do to achieve eternal life. I am different in a way that unsettles my daily choices.
He asked me why I called him good. Instead of answering that question, I asked another. Which commandments should I keep? In retrospect, I wish I had answered his question. I think our discussion would have ended differently. But I cannot undo my past.
When Jesus listed which commandments I should be following, he didn’t mention all ten. As I reflected later on the ones he did mention, I realized that I am guilty of small infractions against those very commandments. Jesus was gently pointing out areas for my growth.
I have killed—in the way I spoke about my neighbor, I killed his good reputation. I stole his good name. And for what? A chance to appear better before others.
I failed to honor the rabbi—a spiritual father to me. I treated his remarks with disdain and an arrogant pride unworthy of those who love God. I see now that I broke the commandment to honor my father—a person with authority over me.
I told Jesus I had kept all the commandments, and he looked at me with love. Knowing my heart inside and out, knowing my failures better than I admit them to myself, he still looked at me with indescribable love.
That look burned itself into my heart. I had never seen or experienced such a love, communicated by a mere facial expression. I was hooked.
I walked away, yes, but his face! His face was indelibly printed on my memory.
In that moment, I had to walk away. I have many, many responsibilities and possessions. I couldn’t accept his offer to follow—not abruptly like that when I have so much under my control.
I wasn’t turning him down, exactly. I was turning down that crazy invitation to just drop it all and follow. No way could I do that.
Am I trying to justify my behavior and make excuses for myself?
Since that day, I have begun letting go, little by little. In small increments I am moving toward a final farewell to my disordered love for all things material. I am progressing towards finding Jesus on the road someday and accepting the invitation to follow. I keep seeing that amazing look of pure love on his face. I want to see that look again.
Wait for me, Jesus! I am coming. I just need a little more time.
Things to ponder:
If I were to meet Jesus face to face, what would my question to him be today?
Am I putting off following Jesus 100% by clinging to something or someone?
Image by Heinrich Hofmann, public domain via Wikipedia.