The Rich Young Ruler….is ME

A man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

“Which ones?” the man inquired.

Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

–Matthew 19:16-20.

Lately I’ve felt like I’m stuck in a rut and going nowhere, and I find myself asking that question a lot.  I keep trying and trying to attain worth by my own means and am so frustrated at my lack of progress.  Like him, I constantly cry out, “What do I still lack? Why isn’t this working? What could I possibly be missing?”

In my youth ministry class the other day, we were all taking turns introducing ourselves, and we had to include something “deep” about us.  So I confessed that I feel like often people only see the blog version of me and think I have everything together, and because I feel like I have to keep up that image, my greatest fear is being speechless (see my recent post When the Words Don’t Come Out Right).  Recently, someone saw a little too deep inside me for my comfort, and it happened.  The speechlessness.  The mild panic.  The feeling of being exposed and vulnerable.  I apologized that he ended up seeing the not-well-put-together side of me, to which he responded, “That’s the best side of people though…people aren’t well-put-together.”  It took a while for that to sink in.

“Does he really believe that?” I wondered. “Does he not think less of me for not having everything figured out?”

And I realized how often I think the same thing about God.  It’s so hard for me to accept the fact that I can be loved for no apparent reason.  That God just wants a relationship with me.  That he just loves me because I’m me.  Just because I exist.  I’m so used to only receiving affirmation for being a hard worker, for being a deep thinker, for being wise or mature or for being any number of things…but never for simply being.  I don’t know how to accept love in the midst of, and even because of, my brokenness.  But isn’t that the whole point of the gospel?

Last night at AfterDark Nashville, everyone was given the opportunity to write on an index card anything that was keeping them from God and nail it to a 14-foot cross, symbolically leaving it behind for good.  On mine was written the simple question, “What do I still lack?”  And as the nail was driven through the paper into the wood, I knew the answer.  Nothing.  I lack only the ability to let myself be loved.

The nagging fear of inadequacy is nailed to the cross, and I’m ready to be done with it.  It’s time to stop relying on my own nonexistent strength and rest in the love of my Savior, because in the end, that’s the only thing that will get me across the finish line.  So as I seek to grow in this new understanding of my relationship with God, I may be taking a break from blogging for a little while.  I may post occasionally, and I’ll be back soon, beloved, probably with a ton of archived journal entries and the thoughts that God has shared with me in the silence.  But this semester, I want to do a little less doing and a little more being as I seek God rather than affirmation.  And in the meantime, you all will be in my prayers, as I hope you will keep me in yours.

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you…he will quiet you with his love…he will rejoice over you with singing. –Zephaniah 3:17


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