I deeply want to experience all of life. I want to fall in love; marry; have children; build a career; attend my kids' football games; eat dinner with them; send them to college; renew my vows with my wife; attend reunions; visit old friends; and sit on my porch on a large piece of land in the South with lemonade in my hand. I've painted pictures in my head, I want this so badly.
We all want something. The problem is that we don't want the greater things as we should. We want the visible, the things that prop us up in the minds of others, despite the greater reality of the invisible.
Jesus encountered this problem. He called men to follow him and they responded, "I've just gotten married. Let me go be with my wife. I've wanted this and I finally have it. Let me enjoy this for a while." Men said to him, "I've finally attained financial freedom. Let me know it and bask in it." Other men said, "I need to honor the memory of my father. The duties of my family call to me." To which Jesus replied, "You are not worthy of my kingdom. Go your own way."
Yet when he called Matthew to follow him, Matthew, too, was at work. Immediately, Matthew abandoned it all. He gave no two weeks' notice, as far as we know. He didn't finish the assignments for the day or tell his boss where he was going. Who knows how many clients and accounts his company lost that day? Yes, the culture was worlds apart, but so was Matthew's willingness. James, John and Simon had similar responses.
They were willing to leave behind what they were for what they could become. They were willing to let go of the present for a greater, albeit unknown, future. They were willing to exchange what was for what could come. They believed in what they could not see, but because they believed Jesus, their faith told them this was not risky, but the most reasonable course of action.
They gave up this world and all it had to offer for the unseen reality that Jesus promised. As in Hebrews 11:15-16, Jesus' disciples desired a better country, a new world. They desired more and were willing to give up everything to pursue it.
Jesus offers not only the keys to the kingdom, but a home and citizenship there. He offers us a place that makes real all our unfulfilled hopes for this world. But we have to follow him to that place we cannot see. He knows the way. His eyes can see. We are the blind ones.
Part of my desires to fall in love, to get married and have children is to know intimacy, and part of my desire is to know the purification that comes with such intimacy and experience. And these will prove beautiful experiences. But even these are only shadows of the experience that comes from knowing and following Jesus in this world and into the next. And these are only shadows compared to the reality Jesus shows us that we can know in marriage and in family if we follow him through those experiences.
I've always feared Jesus would return before I saw all of life unfold in this world. Perhaps I need t look a little more deeply at what I desire, and at whom I desire. A better country awaits.
What would I not give up to follow Jesus?
What do I think offers me more than Jesus can or does?
How does not seeing the things Jesus promises create challenges for me?
Why do I think like this or hold onto these things so tightly?
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