“Following Jesus closely messes up our tidy little kingdoms, and that does not always attract the masses. But at the same time, in following Jesus we receive a life far more abundant than anything in this world can offer. It is this abundant life that we are to demonstrate to others that it is worth losing it all.” (Author unknown.)
What I am discovering is no one wants their tidy little kingdom messed with! After all, what we really want is life to go well. I want life to go well. I want my husband to love me, my kids to appreciate me, the mortgage to be paid on time, my friends to be loyal, my health to remain, and to grow old enough to enjoy my grandkids. I don’t ask for much, really. And I don’t want anyone to rock my boat! Not even Jesus. Because I’m not sure Jesus is concerned about my tidy little life as I am. (Ahhh…I’m beginning to see the problem.)
In fact, I’m not sure he appreciates how much work it has taken to achieve this tidy life. I’ve worked hard at it; I’ve earned it; it’s mine. How can I release control of it to a God who is so unpredictable and sometimes feels so random in his ways? I think I’ll hold on to the reins, keep God at a safe distance but still in comfortable view. After all, Jesus is always trying to teach me something, something I’d rather not learn at the expense of turning things upside down. Sometimes I wished he’d just leave things alone. I’m not willing to sacrifice my carefully constructed life for a shot at an “abundant” life. After all, if I can get life to stay put for a while, it’s a pretty good life.
Of course the problem is…life never stays put. A job is downsized. The doctor calls. A spouse gets restless. A police officer arrives at your door. When will we realize control is an illusion? Our frantic attempts to secure our lives are doomed to fail.
The problem comes when this carefully constructed life becomes our treasure. “For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our hearts are committed to pursuing our treasure whatever it may be. However, if that treasure is not God, then we will simply try to use God to secure it. Our faith dissolves into our attempts to manipulate, cajole or appease God in order to achieve something that will not last. We will forever be grasping, feeling like life is slipping through our fingers, and live out our days in anxious frustration.
Jesus said, “Whoever would lose their life for my sake will save it.” (Matt. 16:25)
It’s simply counterintuitive. Jesus invites to release our expectations and control (and all of its anxiety) of our carefully constructed life for a life with God. When we are willing to let go our pinched image of life as we want it to be, only then are we able to receive the life he wants to give us, “the life that is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:19). Only then do we embark on the life long journey of turning away from our own plans and follow a God whose ways are higher than our own. Only then do we join him on an adventure of faith filled with mystery, and messiness, joy and hardship, beauty and disappointments. Only then do we embrace and delight in a love that defies our understanding and makes possible a way of living each moment of our day in an on-going, interactive friendship with God that is real and meaningful.
When God is our treasure he offers, not a tidy life, but himself.
What things compete to be your treasure?
© Gail Johnsen 2018