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Jo 17I wonder if you can identify a time in your life when you decided against pursuing a particular career or course of action or when you perhaps closed the door on one part of your life and opted for a different direction. How did you feel as you made that decision?

I still remember the moment I turned my back on high school teaching in the late eighties and opted for an editing job instead. Part of me was relieved, while another part was sorry to walk away from the classroom setting and the opportunity to engage with so many young people. And I can well recollect my sorrow at leaving a ministry position over twelve years ago now, after agreeing to stay for a further four years. I knew God had something else for me to do, which turned out to be my whole writing journey, but I hated disappointing our church and walking away from a role I loved.

These decisions of mine, however, pale in comparison to the one made by the rich, young man we read about in Mark 10. Jesus gives this man the offer of a lifetime, in answer to his question about how he might inherit eternal life:

“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.” (21b)

It was not as if Jesus said this harshly at all. In the first part of that verse we see how much he cared for this young man and longed for him to make the right decision:

Jesus looked at him and loved him.

What beautiful words—so simple, yet so profound! Can you imagine the scene here? Can you perhaps put yourself right in that scene, either as an onlooker or even as that rich, young man for a few moments?

This week I did the latter. I imagined myself coming to Jesus with a sincere question about eternal life. I listened as Jesus responded and I answered him honestly. Then, it was as if I could not believe my eyes and ears. There was Jesus, looking straight at me with such love—and my heart almost turned over. But his words were too much for me. I wanted to follow him, but all the beautiful things I own flashed before my eyes—and I wanted them too. I turned away then from his loving face, but even as I did, my heart felt so, so heavy.

Now in reality, I am not this young man. But this experience of allowing Jesus’ words to come alive for me showed me things within myself even now, I believe. What holds me back from following Jesus with my whole heart each day? Are there areas in my life where I still turn from him and go my own way, unwilling to give him everything in response to his love for me? Or have I forgotten those eyes of love with which Jesus still looks at me today, just as that rich, young man experienced so long ago?

Let’s not walk away from those life-giving offers Jesus extends to each one of us. Let’s look him full in the face, listen—and follow.

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