“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Luke 18:22 (NIV)
I long to be a woman who follows hard after Jesus. And I’m not talking about a plastic-Christian life, full of religious checklists and pretense. No, that would be hypocritical at best and deadening at worst.
I want the kind of soul-satisfying closeness that can only come from daily keeping pace with Him. A rich and deep level of intimacy that frantic attempts at rule-following will never produce.
Rules and regulations were an everyday reality for God’s people in the Old Testament. Lists of dos and don’ts to help sinful people maintain fellowship with a holy God. First the Ten Commandments. Then law after law about sacrifices and ceremonies, food and cleanliness.
But in the New Testament, Jesus shows up on the scene and turns everything upside down with His message of grace. A message that declares, “Following rules won’t get you into heaven. Being good won’t earn you bonus points. Lay down your checklists … your agendas … everything … and follow Me. Believe in Me. Receive Me.”
It was a complete shift in thinking. One that left people perplexed, like the rich ruler in Luke 18.
We first meet the rich ruler when he approaches Jesus with a question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18b, NIV)
Jesus, already knowing his checklist-mindset, begins naming several of the Ten Commandments. It’s a list the rich ruler feels he has kept well. But Jesus has more to say: “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22b).
It would be so easy to gloss over this moment and think Jesus is simply talking about money. We could be tempted to label this a story for “those” people — the ones we think have more money than they know what to do with. But the words in this conversation are for every single one of us. Because the core issue Jesus is getting at is this: What holds the key to your heart?
Oh, how I want my answer to be “Jesus.” I want to want Him most. To live completely captured by His love. Enthralled with His teachings. Living proof of His truth.
There have been others who have gone before me who desired this as well. Imperfect heroes of faith we read about in the Bible who, despite their shortcomings, pleased God. And it wasn’t perfect actions that carved a path to God’s heart. It was something else. Something less defined that can’t be outlined and dissected. Something that was sometimes messy and offensive. But something that was so precious at the same time it caused God to pause.
It’s a word used to describe a little girl leaping from the bed’s edge, completely confident her daddy will catch her. It’s the same thing that fueled David’s courageous run toward Goliath with nothing but a sling and five smooth stones. It’s what fueled Joshua. And Moses. And Noah. And Paul.
And it’s the one thing Jesus is asking of the rich ruler. Not for a life lived perfectly, but a heart of perfect surrender. So this is my prayer:
“Everything I have. Everything I own. Everything I hope for. Everything I fear. Everything I love. Everything I dream. It’s all Yours, Jesus. I trust You in complete and utter abandon.”
Sadly, it’s also the one thing this man felt he could not offer. He stood on the edge of everything uncertain with the arms of all certainty waiting to catch him. And he just couldn’t jump; he lived his life entangled in lesser things.
He was not captured by, enthralled with or living proof of the reality of Jesus. And so he walked away from the only One who could ever truly satisfy his soul.
Oh, friends. Let’s not allow this to be the tragedy of our lives. Let’s be found captured by Jesus’ love, enthralled with His teachings and living proof of His truth. Let’s be found living with abandon.
Because the life that follows Jesus with abandon is the life that gets to experience His presence, His provision, His promises, His soul-satisfying abundance.
Father God, please forgive me for all of the times I have settled for lesser things. I want to want You most. Today, I am handing You the key to my heart. The key to everything in my life. I love You. I need You. And I want to follow hard after You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (NIV)