Can I have it all on earth and in heaven? This is the question that haunts me. Today’s verse once again drove this home:
Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
I almost wish the young man had not asked the question. I feel like I do “ok” with the commandments… most of the time. Of course a lot harder is the one Jesus throws on – love your neighbor as yourself. But I feel like I can at least feel like I do that… some of the time. But give away my possessions? All of them? I like my possessions. They provide me with a sense of security. I grew up without many, scrounged for one meal a day in college, worked 3 jobs at a time on occasion. Give up everything? Do I trust God enough? Is that what Jesus is asking me to do — trust God not the material world? Honestly, every time I hear this verse, my blood pressure rises, I begin to panic and I feel depressed. I am not sure I ever read the very next lines, though — which give me hope:
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
I cannot do it without God — if I think I can, I will only end up panicked and depressed — because I know I will fail. I am not strong enough. I am not good enough to be perfect. I am not able on my own to achieve eternal life. But with God it is possible.
So I will continue to strive to do all these things, including giving more. And I will continue to ask God for forgiveness when I fail, for mercy when my time on earth ends, and that it be His will that I might have eternal life with Him.
I love you. I want to spend eternity with you. Please forgive me for the times that I have failed to keep your commandments, failed to love my neighbor, and acted selfishly with my time and possessions, focusing on worldly wealth rather than heavenly wealth. Help me to do better. I beg you to grant me your grace and your mercy, so that I may one day be with you. I know I am not worthy of this, but I trust in your love.