"The young man said to Jesus, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth up. What lack I yet?’" (Matthew 19:20, KJV)
By BISHOP ROBERT HAYES JR.
Do you feel you are living on the outer edge of the good life you have always wanted? For some reason, you sense that you never have reached the fullness of your life’s center. I believe this is a common predicament of our time.
You know the ultimate goal of living is to become a citizen of that special place where life makes sense and existence has purpose and meaning. But for some reason, the passport in your possession is unable to get you there.
It is my sincere belief that you can, indeed, find that measure of happiness and wholeness that evades so many people. It’s closer than you think.
Examine your visa that allows you to enter 2011. As your "spiritual customs agent," I feel I must ask you these questions as you do so:
What are you looking for?
What have you to declare in the way of joy and contentment?
What do you feel you are you lacking?
Matthew writes that the young ruler approached Jesus and asked him a question about eternal life. He was looking for something. Scripture tells us he was rich—yet, in spite of having everything he needed, he was in search of what his wealth could not bring him.
How are we like this young man? Some of us live on the surface. We build our enjoyments around physical things, and we measure our security by material possessions. Despite things that should bring us satisfaction, our lives remain hectic and confused.
At times we are carried away by wild enthusiasms—and brought back to earth by dreary monotony. It seems our days are filled with sequences of non-related events. The great weakness of this kind of life is it carries no inner reserves to meet the demands placed upon us. When difficulties and crises invade our lives, there is no depth of strength from which we can draw.
In this simple but profound teaching, Jesus taught that the full life is centered on an idea. In fact, he pleaded for singleness of intention.
He exposed the confusion of multiple purposes, which result in multiple visions. He advocated the focused life, and he decried attempts to serve two—or more—masters.
In 2011, if we are going to get off the edge of life and get into the heart of significant living, the central idea on which we must focus is the understanding that God is the first and great loyalty in our lives, and that by creating us in His image, we are sons and daughters of the Spirit.
God has given us hungers that riches alone cannot satisfy. Only when we acknowledge God, praise Him, and commit ourselves totally to Him will we move from the edge of life into the fullness of it.
The writer W.P. Merrill says it best: "You want to enter into life? You want to find the real secret of joy and zest and heart-contentment? Very well! Let commandments go, forget about rules; do something vital, original, daring, costly, generous, devoted. Gather up your whole self and throw it into some venture. Find some cause, some person, something you will love so much that any sacrifice for that adored object seems trifling. Lose your heart, fall in love, with God, with humanity, with a cause, with an ideal, and beggar yourself in its service."
Gen. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, is one of the people I most admire. I often speak about him in my sermons because his life was shaped by the focused idea of helping the poor of London.
When asked about his success with the Salvation Army, Booth said: "I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities. But from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, and all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life."
God stands outside the door of many lives, seeking entrance. If you will open your life to Him unreservedly, if you will yield your questing pride and bow in adoration for all you have received, if you will lose yourself in some breathtaking pursuit for the sake of the One who died for your sins—I can promise you will move from the edge and into the very heart of life itself!
Pray with me:
O gracious and loving God, it is with no sense of right or worthiness, with no awareness of merit or achievement, that we lift this prayer before You this day. We come before You because You have so fashioned us that we are restless until we rest in You. Help us to keep life simple, yet face it whole, by resting quietly in Your power, Your wisdom, and Your unfailing love. May Your peace descend upon us in this new journey of 2011, understanding that the deepest and fullest expression of our essential selves can only be found in You. Amen.