Wait! I left this list on my bathroom counter. It’s the same one that has sat there, only half scratched off for 3 weeks!
I’ve still used the notepad and carefully torn off the pages below it so as not to disturb the taunting list of torture.
I didn’t think anyone knew about my “list”; the one that I can’t seem to finish, but promise myself each night will be the next day’s start.
He is silent… Jesus.
Hand open, patiently waiting. Knowing.
He always knows what holds us back.
What stands between us and true, complete intimacy with Him.
He doesn’t want simply our religious words, our clever phrases and posts on social media. He doesn’t just desire that we act right or do good deeds.
Jesus wants our deepest desires to focus on Him.
He taught with parables in John 18, one of them was about a Rich Young Ruler (v. 18 – 29)
When the wealthy man asked what he could do to enter the kingdom of God, Jesus told him to go home, sell everything and return to follow Jesus.
Many people are upset by this story because they feel that it’s asking them to give up everything and go become a missionary. When in fact, that is not it’s purpose. Jesus simply used this story for those who DO love their money.
There is no end to the conversation after Jesus request, other than in verse 23, “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.”
“Rich Young Ruler” is not heard from again, nor is he mentioned. We can only speculate that he could not follow the directions and lived out his sad existence.
Now I do believe that Jesus was teaching us not to love money, but the deeper message is found if you read the entire chapter and the parables surrounding it.
All of them are comparing and contrasting actions with desires of the heart.
Jesus KNOWS us.
He KNOWS me.
He KNOWS you.
He KNOWS the desires of our heart.
If I say on Sunday, I’m going to serve Him during the week, and each morning I get up and go simply about scratching off my To-Do List and only measuring my value by what I have accomplished… for myself… what is the desire of MY heart?
If I get up and spend the first part of my day in a quiet time, but cannot tell you later in the day what it was I read in my Bible, or prayed, or felt, because I’m so busy striving to get it all done… what is the desire of MY heart?
If I sit at my laptop and struggle to form a sentence or a paragraph that will impress others and get a lot of “likes,” on Facebook… what is the desire of MY heart?
I have beat myself up for weeks because I have not been able to finish my To-Do List for a writing conference I am attending at the end of July.
That has caused me to put off THAT list from my bathroom counter. Which has caused me to not finish unpacking my boxes or hanging pictures on the clean, unpunctured walls of my new home. (Nope… not one single thing has been hung on a nail in the month I’ve lived in my new house… fear of doing it wrong… fear of failure!)
My perfectionism is wrapped up in my To-Do List. I feel the wad, now crumpled up in my fist behind my back and Jesus is still standing, hand open, soft brown eyes, tenderly loving me to give in.
“Let go of it, Lisa. You’ll NEVER get it all done. And you don’t have to. That is NOT how I see you. You are not a list, or a set of boxes to check off. You are not being graded or scored, you are not a bunch of “stats” on a website.
I love you just because…” He pauses…
“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not your plan or your effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For you are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (The Voice)
My head is bowed, my shoulders ease; as the tears stream slowly down my cheeks, I realize that I’m kneeling at His feet.
His hand still open in front of me, I bring the list from behind my back and try to open it flat and press out the wrinkles on the ground. I lift it and and lay it in His strong hand. He takes hold of it and He begins to receive it from me, but I reflexively tighten my grip and tug back.
To my surprise, He lets go.
And I realize that I have been here before.
This could be the end of my Young Rich Ruler parable, where it’s never mentioned again. Because, Jesus won’t battle for my will; He won’t command that I “give” Him the list or… the first thought of my day, the first place in my heart.
“How will I KNOW when I get it all RIGHT?”
“How will I KNOW if I’ve got it all DONE?”
“How will I KNOW if I’ve been a SUCCESS?”
He hears the questions of my heart, although my mouth only begins to part and I cannot seem to form my first word.
“Trust me,” He simply says, “I will give you peace.”
Is there something that you hold behind your back, that you think no one sees?
Maybe it is the desire for more…
…or just a completed To-Do List that never seems to end.
Today, could you close your eyes, envision our Lord and place it in His open hand?
Today, could you realize that you… and I… will NEVER measure up to the standards that the world places on us.
Today, could you let go and…
Say to Him, “I trust You for my value and peace.
I do NOT need to BE more, because in YOU, I have value.”