Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19: 21-22
Water skiing requires great timing and balance. It also requires knowing when to let go. I learned this the hard way about twenty years ago. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was pretty good at skiing on one ski. It was so much fun to cut across the wake of water from the boat and lean as far to one side as I could as I skimmed across the surface of the lake. I loved how strong I felt and the freedom of flying across the water. That’s the picture I had in mind when I decided to try it again at about 51 years old.
I was relatively athletic most of my life and figured I’d just pop out of the water like used to in younger years. So, I yelled, “Hit it!” to signal the boat drive to gun the engines, but things didn’t go as planned. I tried again and again. I drank a lot of lake water. And still, I did not pop out of the water. With fierce determination, I gave it one more try – I was not letting go of the rope handle this time – I was going to get up on one ski if it killed me. It nearly did. The next thing I heard (and felt) was a loud “pop” and I was down, floating like a half dead fish in the water.
When we don’t follow simple principles of nature – something has got to give. This time, it was my hamstring. I not only failed to ski that day – I lost my ability to walk for a while. My muscle was torn so badly that I had black and purple bruising from the top of my thigh to my ankle. My leg was outrageously swollen and my ego was deflated.
Sometimes, we need to let go. Let go of our fears. Let go of our false security blankets. Let go of pride. Let go of absolutely everything that gets in the way of fully surrendering our entire life to Christ. There is a price to pay when we don’t. In the verse above, a rich young man who knows the Lord’s commandments and follows most of them, wants to know what he must “do” to get eternal life. Of course, we know that working our way to heaven requires absolute perfection – which is utterly impossible. In this man’s case, the thing he was lacking was his willingness to let go of his riches. When Jesus told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and follow him – the man went away sad because he loved his wealth more than he loved Christ. He couldn’t let go and the eternal consequence was certainly not worth the riches he held so tightly in his fists.
God loves us beyond measure – so much that he gave his only Son to die for us. He held back nothing to deliver us from our sin and selfishness and he wants nothing less than all of us. Letting go is incredibly hard when we think we know what will fulfill us. At first, complete surrender may feel as if you are free falling without a parachute. But it’s the safest jump you will ever take – directly into the loving arms of God who rewards you with deep joy and contentment.
Father God, I want to trust you with my entire life, yet my actions often show that I do not. I sometimes live like I want to keep my feet in two worlds and reap the benefit of both. Please help me let go of the things of this world and follow you with all my heart. Amen.
What are you holding on to that is holding you back from complete surrender to God and deeper intimacy with Him?