“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.’” Mark 10:21
One Sunday morning in October I saw a young girl with her dad walking toward the Children’s Museum in our small, New England town. The legs of a stuffed Pooh Bear dangled beneath her right arm, his head peeking over the top of her chokehold. All three crossed the street together. The little girl’s left hand was securely tucked into her father’s right as she trotted to keep up with his pace. My first impression was of the sweet picture this portrayed of our daily walk with Jesus; our secure, surrendered life of following Him. My second thought concerned the Pooh Bear. This little girl wasn’t content just holding daddy’s hand as she followed. She needed Pooh to make her feel secure.
Of course, I have one or two Pooh Bears under my arm of control for security too. While I know in my mind that Jesus is enough there is a tendency to cling to other things while trying to follow Jesus. “Pooh Bears” like savings, good health, ministry and family make me feel safe and secure. However, anxiety rushes into my heart whenever I fear they may be slipping away. My grip tightening with every anxious thought, I hold on to what I perceive as essential for my security by its furry little neck. This happened a couple of weeks ago when we received a large but expected bill. Emotionally spinning because it was outside my comfort zone of spending, my mind started flipping from asking, “What were we thinking!” to “Why is this service so expensive!” My Pooh Bear (savings) was in danger!
This incident was so revealing because I didn’t even know I had a chokehold in this area. It took a few days of unpacking for God to reveal the content of my heart. Using the key of confession (I’m sorry Lord that I don’t trust You to take care of me and believe I have to protect myself) and repentance (I choose to believe You over my feelings of insecurity, accepting Your forgiveness and choosing to walk in the truth that You will never leave me or forsake me and You have given me everything for life and Godliness) God opens the door freedom. When I choose to look up and see that my Father has my hand and will never let me go there is an overwhelming sense of peace and security. My Pooh Bears, I realize, are only gifts to enjoy. Like a carrot in the hand of a child feeding a horse they are meant to be held with an open palm lest my fingers get nipped. His love enables the open hand.
In addition, although there are times when I am totally surrendered, walking in lock-step with God’s glorious pace, admittedly there are also times when I do insist that Jesus “follow me.” Instead of holding other things in my grip for security I try to get hold of Jesus ’round the neck and choke out the sound of His voice, refusing to surrender to His life in me. The result is mental chaos and feelings of isolation. No longer walking in The Light I grope around in emotional darkness. Insisting on my way while stumbling across the dangerous terrain of rebellion until He brings me to the end of myself. Here, again at the altar of confession and repentance, He restores my soul while I allow Him to wash my feet, getting me ready to follow HIM once again.
So, whether the sin revealed is idolatry or rebellion He is waiting to heal every dark place. The key is recognizing when you are stuffed with other things or getting ahead of Him. How can we know? The answer is in Psalm 139:23-24:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.”
If you ask Him He will search your heart, revealing any unclean thing and, with His righteous right hand holding yours, lead you in the everlasting way. His path is straight. We can follow Him with confidence, joy and peace, trotting all the way to Heaven with His good gifts held loosely in open hands of praise. \O/
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12