I read Matthew 19 this morning. You know, the story about the rich, young ruler? I’ve read it a million times. Probably since I was a tiny child, I’ve known this story.
The rich, young man asks what to do to get eternal life. Jesus basically tells him to follow the ten commandments…don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor like you love yourself. So he says to Jesus, “Well I’ve done all that. What’s left?” Here’s the kicker…Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. Sounds doable right? Hard but doable. But here’s where maybe I’m recognizing a more hidden meaning. In The Message version it says;
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go. (vs 22)
Ok, so what if you aren’t rich? What if you are? What if you don’t really have things to sell for the poor? What if you do? Does any of that mean that me or you are exempt from what Jesus is trying to tell us? Yeah, cool. Okay….no….
He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go….
I read it several times. Something started bubbling to the surface. Questions.
What if he is talking about emotional things, intangible things? What if material possessions, see, touch, taste, feel, things are only part of it?
For six months I’ve been hearing God say, “Let go Mitzie.”
For six months I’ve been hearing God say, “I’m asking you to stand.”
Ahhhh. That can be a mind blower! How is that even possible? How do you stand for something but let it go, all at the same time?
For me, the definition of standing is found in Ephesians 6.
God is strong and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels (vs 10-12 MSG)
Ok, makes sense. So what is letting go then?
Again I think about things I’ve read about. Specifically Abraham. Genesis 22 tells the story of him and his son Isaac. God asks Abraham to literally place his son on an alter and offer him as a burnt offering. The first time I heard it I was a young kid and I remember thinking, “this God is crazy! He’s nuts! How could He ask that of a dad?” But the actual offering wasn’t the point. At all. God was asking Abraham if he was willing to sacrifice (let go) of his son. In other words, hang on to the Lord more than his own flesh and blood….put God first.
What if rich, as in the rich young ruler, doesn’t only mean rich in gold and silver and a big house? So I read on and I’m reading it with this perspective….
(vs 23- 26 paraphrased) Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich (and people who find their importance and identity in relationships and other people) to enter God’s kingdom? It’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle. The disciples were stunned. “How does anybody have a chance of getting into heaven then???”
“They have no chance at all if they think they can do it themselves. But every chance in the world if they trust God to do it.”
So basically it’s let God get the camel through the eye of the needle. Stop trying to do it yourself! (preaching to myself!)
I have spent almost my whole adult life trying to get those that I love to do what I think is the right thing, or do it the way I think it should be done. Follow God this way. Talk this way. Discipline this way. Parent this way. Grow up this way. Love me this way. Talk to me this way. Do dishes this way. Clean this way. Drive this way. All because I just couldn’t let go. For whatever reason I have been afraid of letting God have all of that. Somehow I felt powerful if I controlled it. I can’t imagine how I have exhausted them. And now, he has allowed things in my life that are forcing me to look up and pay attention. My motive may be good but it’s not my job. There’s nothing wrong with wanting good relationships and things in order but it goes way overboard. I can stand on and for God. But I am not trusting Him if I don’t let go of the people I love and let God do whatever he’s going to do in the way that He’s going to do it.
I think I’ve written about this in one way or the other many times but maybe because I’m really trying to “get it.” God keeps showing me a new perspective and a new depth to it. I can’t love well if I am holding on. I can’t love well if I am not letting go. All I’ve ever wanted is to love well. I’ve felt that love inside of me but was never able to get it out the way that I feel it. I think I finally know why. I was holding on. And now I am letting go.
Now I’m letting go….