I have quite a bit. A lot. Extravagente. Let alone our paid-for cars, the home we live in on my Grandma’s farm, the softest furniture (Jeff’s only home décor stipulation – plus not too many flowers), and abundant food – we have more clothes than needed donned in a week, technology beyond usefulness to entertainment, and more blankets than we could use in a January power-outage. And that’s only the material side of life! I have a committed, loving husband (who has spent the last 24 hours doing all the kid care and food care as I lay on the couch coughing up a storm and aching with fever), two beautiful little ladies who like to laugh, cousins, friends, mentors, and acquaintances who encourage me in parenting, writing, speaking, teaching, and just plain old living. My life, in any standards, is good.
So I’m drawn to Mark 10 when I think of all I have:
Mark 10:17-31 (NIV)
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him.
“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
So how does this story equate to life today? Should I become the next Shane Claiborne? Mother Theresa? I think the answer to that for many of us could be yes, but, once again, it boils down to our daily decisions: where do I focus my extra? Do I tithe? On my gross or my net? Do I support, in prayer and/or finances, those who are giving it all away to serve in the darkest corners of the world, be that India, south Chicago, or rural Nepal? Do I allow myself all my splurge purchases, big and small, without stopping to realize what a privilege it is to even HAVE the option of a splurge purchase? On what is my heart and mind focused? Are my hands open, closed, too full? If you have an open bed in your house, have you considered joining in to end the need for orphanages in the world by adopting or fostering?
I’m a big fan of the Raffi song:
So, I obviously think a little mention of the Triune God would be good but the essence is there. The essentials of life are there. Joy in salvation, physical sustenance and safety, and familial love. I wrote a few weeks ago on love and I do believe there is true love abundant in my immediately family. Sure, we fight and disagree and carry wounds, but our heart is to love. Nobody has to be perfect. Nobody does everything right – remember that thing called grace? But when we look at our essentials and view the haves as sharable, our lifestyle drastically changes, our community drastically changes, and your heart…my heart…drastically changes.
What do you have that you can share?