The last few weeks have been a jumble of sorting, selling, giving away and letting go. The number of unnecessary possessions that we have obtained and the amount of time it has taken to sort though them has worn me down. In many ways, the process has been both annoyingly frustrating and therapeutically freeing. My heart does not want to own so much, it weighs on you in unseen areas and seems to suck energy out of you just by being there. The challenge for me however, is not in releasing the unwanted items, but in facing the things that I do want, that I do enjoy. There is a pull, a silent whisper of security that beckons from the lifeless stuff around me. Perhaps “possessions” is the most accurate term that could possibly describe our things. The irony is that we can fail to see who owns and who is possessing. This can be almost impossible to judge until the moment in which you are faced with giving it up.
The rich young ruler has been on my mind today. I’ve read his story in the gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke and although they all convey the same thread of truth, I am particularly fond of Mark’s retelling. After the young man inquires, “what good thing he can do” (Matthew’s version) to acquire eternal life, Jesus first lays out the commandments. The rich ruler is satisfied that he has met the requirements; from the time he was a boy. At this point, Jesus prepares to cut right to the heart of the matter, but first He pauses and Mark says,
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’
I am so moved that Jesus felt a love for him. He knew. He knew that the young man was about to turn away from him. He knew that the words he was about to say were more than the man could swallow; yet he still loved him. It’s the same for us, the same for me. He can lead me to the edge of faith and show me my next step, but it is up to me to choose faith of fear, love of things or love of truth. It is also humbling to realize that Jesus’ love for us is not enough to save us. It is the all important initiation, however, if we chose to turn away, we are lost.
Matthew 6:20 instructs, “Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourself treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I can’t help but wonder how the story might have played out, had the young man trusted that Jesus truly was the wisest investor of all. Had he gone home and sold all he had and given it away, what a different ending we would have to read! But we don’t read about him anywhere else in Scripture and I am left to assume that he never returned to follow Jesus. How sad to miss an invitation like that! Let that not be me.
How about you? Is this an area you have struggled with? If you are looking for a motivational pep talk to encourage you to begin to let go of stuff? I enjoyed the podcast “Freedom From Stuff” by The Art of Simple with Tsh Oxenreider as well as the podcast “Downsizing, Simple Living: What to keep, what to toss” by Road School Moms (Start around min 15 in order to jump right into the main topic. They also offer a free ebook on the topic on the show!).