Written by Samantha Decker for QSBC Women
Excitedly, I loaded up the kids, packed snacks, and headed out of the house (which was a big deal at the start of a global pandemic) to get my grocery pick-up order knowing this meant I could get groceries with no hassle, no unneeded purchases, and no stress. Even though I dreamed of casually browsing the aisles of Target without my kids in tow, grocery pick-up orders had become one of the things I had learned to love during this season.
However, my love of grocery pick-up backfired on the day I didn’t check the substitutions and unavailable items notification. I’d never had issues before, so when the attendant, who I’m pretty sure knew me by name at this point, asked if everything looked okay, I hastily said yes, thanked him, and headed back home.
This particular pick-up order had ingredients to make the Pioneer Woman’s Caramel Apple Pie recipe I needed to bake and take to a family gathering the next day. As I unloaded the grocery sacks, I quickly realized one crucial ingredient was missing: the apples.
Even though apple pies may not be that important in the long run, and grocery pick-up apparently does have its flaws, the Spirit has used this to show me how often my life reflects this grocery order. I lack the most important thing.
Jesus taught the rich young ruler a similar lesson in Mark 10:17-31. When the man, who had kept the Old Testament commandments from his youth, asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, this is what Jesus said:
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Mark 10:21.
Like my apple pie without apples, this man was missing the one crucial ingredient: a willingness to follow Jesus above all else.
Scripture doesn’t tell us more about this man, but from what we know, he appears to be the person everybody would describe as “a good guy”. We see that he knelt before Jesus (v.17) in a position of humility. He tells us that even from youth, He has known and kept the commandments. And, the mere fact that he is seeking the path to eternal life shows us his desire to live for more than just this life. In many ways, he checks all of the boxes of someone we might admire today.
Still, he left the presence of Jesus feeling “sorrowful and disheartened” knowing that following Jesus would cost him possessions, wealth, status, and comfort; all of which he desperately wanted to hold onto.
Every January as I see people making goals and resolutions, I sense myself pushing against this. I dislike the idea of change and reform and am afraid of failing or missing the mark. However, at the start of this year, I’ve experienced conviction that as true followers of Jesus, we can’t afford to not let the Spirit examine our hearts and make changes for the sake of the Gospel.
Whether goals and resolutions motivate you, or you push against them as I do, I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
- What am I desperate to hold onto?
- What is the “one crucial ingredient” keeping me from following Jesus whole-heartedly?
- What actions steps must I take to pursue Jesus alone?
While these questions and this passage might (and probably should) bring conviction, Jesus reveals so much of His character here. Before telling this man he’s lacking one thing, Jesus “looks at him, and loves him.”
Can you imagine the love in Jesus’ eyes as He sees this man seeking eternal life? Can you imagine how this man must have felt, to be seen and known by the Son of God?
Jesus knew this man and knew full well what He was asking of him. He knew the extent of this man’s possessions, and his tendency to hold on. This would be hard, yet still, He asked it of him. Jesus also knew it would be worth it. He knew of the treasure in Heaven this man could have and the joy waiting for Him if he would just follow Jesus.
He knows you and loves you, too!
As you identify the one thing you lack and find yourself desperate to hold on to, you can know with certainty that Jesus has a good plan for your life. Whatever He asks you to lay at His feet is worth it. Following Jesus always is!