Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Today’s text

Mark 10:17-21

He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, 'Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; You shall not defraud; honor your father and mother.' And he said to him, 'Master, I have kept all these since my earliest days.' Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, 'You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.


What if … ?

What if you woke every morning eager for the day, excited and ready to go, knowing the day held a gift?

What if you didn’t know (which you don’t) what that gift is, when it will appear or where?

What if your senses stood on tip toe, on alert, ready to receive the gift, whatever it was?

What if each day were received as a gift of life, complete with moments of joy, of tenderness, with food savory in your mouth and people who wanted to see you and talk with you?

What if you began to experience life in its goodness as a grace from the Great Giver from whose hearts flows the wonder of autumn colors, the beauty of harvested fields and the brisk bite of fall on your cheeks?

What if you experienced the simple goodness of living, of being able to give and receive love, of touching the face of someone you cherish, of seeing the smile of a treasured heart who has known sorrow?

What if you were washed over and filled to the brim by a wave of knowing that you are loved and treasured, always were and always will be, from the first day of your life until the day you leave this earth and enter the fullness of God’s grace?

What if you lived awake and utterly aware of the love of the One who is good all time, The One who loves to give and loves you? What if you breathed in this awareness until it filled your lungs with life and your soul with happiness?

What if?

You would taste eternal life. You would have the treasure of heaven, the treasure the heart wants and seeks in all it tries to accomplish and possess, the treasure we need more than any other.

But possessing, getting more--money, status, power, amusement, success, stuff--doesn’t bring this treasure. You can’t inherit this treasure. You can’t gain it or earn it. It can only be received.

This requires a dramatic shift in consciousness.

A man comes to Jesus, asking to gain eternal life. We normally think of that as something that comes when we are done with this life, and that’s not correct. Eternal life, the life of eternity, is a state we enter here and now, in this life and time, or we do not enter it at all.

Why does he come to Jesus? He comes for the same reason people sometimes come to me. They know something is wrong. Something is missing. Like this man, they need healing, but they can’t name their disease.

Their prayer life has gone dead, if it ever was much alive. Or their life is going well but there is a whole in their soul that craves filling. Or they have destructive things--or suffered such pain from others, and they want to touch and taste something, a healing, a fullness that money can’t buy and working harder can’t bring.

They hunger to know the treasure of heaven, eternal life. This is the life human hearts crave whether they can name it or not. Without it, we feel incomplete.

So what must I do? Give up everything; give it all to the poor, Jesus tells the young man, and us.

We think he must be kidding. Certainly, his words have to understood in some symbolic way. We need to live. We need our stuff to survive. We accumulate what we need and hold onto it tightly.

Too tightly, for life is not about accumulating things, and this becomes abundantly clear at the conclusion of our earthly lives.

Twice in recent weeks I have listened, shared stories and tears with those who have just lost beloved family members. As I listened, I was moved by the rich tapestry of what they shared with their loved on in decades of knowing and loving each other.

The words and stories that evoked tears, the things that were most meaningful had nothing to do with the job, wealth or accomplishments of those who had died.

What mattered, … all that really mattered was the river of love and grace, giving and care that flowed from the hearts of their loved one to them and back again.

A river of grace and goodness, giving and care flowed among them, a stream that begins in the heart of God, the Great Giver, and seeks to pull us all into its joy.

This is what the young man was missing. This accounts for the hole in his heart. His life was gift, not something gained through his strenuous effort to be good.

Eternal life, the treasure of heaven could be felt in his soul and make him truly alive only when he released what he held so tightly and surrendered to the flow of generosity coursing from God’s heart and seeking to pull him along.

When he surrendered to that holy flow he would become part of the river of grace that flowed through the conversations of those to whom I recently ministered in their grief. Then, he would know eternal life, the treasure of heaven.

Until then, all he did and his wealth and all he accomplished would be an impediment to him. You see, wealth, money and what you have accumulated can bring happiness … when it is shared and becomes part of the flow.

Our hearts know this. We feel it every time we share what we have, what we own and who we are. For when we do we know the treasure of heaven, and eternal life fills our hearts.

Pr. David L. Miller

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