wife. mother. teacher. recovering scaredy cat
4 am. My internal alarm had struck again, waking me entirely too early as it had done every morning of that long, sleepless month. I rolled out of bed, tied the bathrobe around my waste, and shuffled down the stairs to my dimly lit kitchen. Fingers fumbling, I flipped on the lights and punched the coffee button to brew. The pot percolated, singing it’s usual serenade as I stared longingly out the window to my dimly lit backyard. Empty cup in hand, I waited patiently as I pondered my prayer from the night before.
Casey and I had been grappling with a monumental decision to enter into ministry. God was telling us to go but I still had an unsettled feeling and was struggling to figure out why. My mind was exhausted, my emotions were taxed, and a decision needed to be made. So, I had prayed before bed that I would wake up with answers. How soundly I had slept that night, resting on the promise that God would be faithful and guide me. Now early morning had come again, and there was no new revelation. Disappointed, I sighed heavily and poured out the cry of my heart as I flooded my mug with warm brew.
Where are you God? Why won’t you speak to me?
I reached for my laptop and logged on to my morning devotional, feeling unmotivated to read the current series about people in the Bible who had encountered Jesus.
"Must be nice," I grumbled greedily as I waited for the page to load.
It started like most other stories, a man who had come to Jesus asking questions and seeking answers. He was The Rich Young Ruler. You can read more about him in Matthew 19:16-26, but the gist of the story is this -- He considered himself to be religious and full of righteousness, but he loved his possessions and reputation more than he loved God and others. We know this because when Jesus asked him to surrender his status and follow Him, The Rich Young Ruler couldn’t do it. And the Bible said that he walked away and was grieved.
Grieved. The cursor blinked as I stared at the word. Out of all the feelings about this decision, I certainly wouldn’t have described any of them as grief. Yet, there I sat, letting the truth settle over me and permeate every part of my being. I had been greatly grieved by this process because...
I was The Rich Young Ruler. And I couldn’t surrender my kingdom.
Surrender isn’t a popular word these days for most people. Culture tells us that we need to be all things to all people. Only the strong will survive! But the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite- peace instead of striving, the first being the last, the meek who inherit the earth. It’s a beautiful exchange, this upside down economy that Jesus offers us. My property, my possessions, my position in life- they had been defining me for entirely too long. God was asking me to cash them in and exchange them for something new, something way better. And the thought of that made me angry. It grieved me. I had a good little kingdom going on! One that I was serving faithfully and letting rule over me. I loved where I lived and what I had. My kids went to a great school and I was a teacher there. I was well known and well liked (at least I thought so!) My husband had an intriguing career that made us seem interesting and sometimes the center of attention. These things made me happy and told me who I was. Now God was asking me to give it all up and follow Him. But, my kingdom! What about my kingdom?? And then I thought of that prince on the page....
I could see him there, head down as he wandered away from the presence of Jesus. Perhaps he returned home to all that he had and realized it wasn’t enough. I’m guessing he knew all along. For he was The Rich Young Ruler. And most days, so am I. I want what Jesus has to offer, but I don’t want to give up what I have in order to receive it. The Bible calls that an idol- a trap that keeps us living in tiny man made kingdoms. It doesn't mean possessions are bad, it just means they shouldn't be worshiped. At the end of the day, this new opportunity for my family was nothing short of a question that Jesus was asking me….
Are you willing to give up your reign and really be my disciple?
God, in his mercy was reminding me of what I had forgotten all along; I don't need to build a kingdom with my hands when He's placed His in my heart. It's a kingdom that tells me who I am and where I belong and beckons me to come home. Joy filled my heart as I closed the lid to my laptop. God hadn't forgotten me. He had heard my prayer and answered it in His time and in a way that only I so perfectly needed to hear. I didn't have to walk away in grief. It was time to surrender the kingdom.