By Maggie Bartlett
I’ll probably lose a toenail by the end of summer.
Occasionally, I work up the courage to look closely at my toe. It's not looking good. My husband and I went backpacking and summited a fourteener near Telluride over the Fourth of July. It was an intense three-day trip and, each day, I waffled between exhaustion and joy—except for the descent from the peak. That I was clear on, I hated it. My mind was tired from navigating the technicality of the peak; my hip was aggravated from the uneven terrain, and my knees! My poor knees! But all those aches paled in comparison to the throbbing in my toe. I winced with every step as I scrambled down rocks and scree, certain that toe would be a mess.
Sure enough, when we got back to camp, my toe looked like something out of an old school cartoon. Remember when a character would accidentally hammer his thumb? Then his thumb would swell up to three times its normal size, turn a deep shade of red and develop a heartbeat? I swear to you, that is exactly what my toe looked like—like I’d been hammering it for eight hours. I knew, with each slam of my toes against my boot, that my toenail wouldn’t make it.
A few days after our incredible trip, I read the story of the rich young man. I've read it before, but this time it's meaning for me was so real it was like another slam of a hammer on my sore toe.
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "There is still one thing you haven’t done,'" he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions." (Mark 10:17-22, 28-31 NLV)
We can learn a lot from this story, but in this season, it reminds me that following Jesus comes at a price.
For the young man, it was his wealth. For me, it means sacrficing my selfish desires and giving my time away.
Jesus didn’t assure him that he would provide any immediate satisfaction or tangible comfort. Jesus definitely didn’t say it would bring him success or prominence either. Some guy (the Messiah) was asking him to give up everything he worked for and everything he knew to pursue a vague and unfamiliar calling. Can you really blame the guy for walking away? Jesus certainly wasn’t marketing the position very well.
The rich man longed for a more meaningful life, but he couldn’t have that and all his possessions. Eternal life would cost him, and he wasn’t convinced it would be worth the price. But following Jesus is costly—that’s the point. The good news is, it’s worth the sacrifice.
Have you been the rich man who walked away from Jesus’ invitation? I certainly have. I avoided committing to church and plugging into a small group the past few years. After my dad passed away unexpectedly, I didn't have the emotional capacity to participate in more than just, well, waking up each day. The thought alone of going to church and especially joining a small group, was daunting to me.
Now, in this stage of grief, I feel more whole and a little less broken. And after reading that passage, I felt convicted about the excuses I made to duck out of building community through church. Of course, committing would cost me things I enjoy, like my time, flexibility and freedom on a Sunday. but if the Lord was nudging me to finally commit to church and dive deeper into relationship with him and others, then obedience would gain me so much more.
What wild thing is he asking of you? It’s easy to be disobedient because sometimes he asks us to do crazy stuff. Like, be kind to other people. (Jesus, have you met "other people"? They are nuts.) He may be asking you to uproot your whole family, move to a different continent and trust him…because it’s all for his glory. Or maybe it’s smaller than that. Maybe he’s nudging you to join a small group or invite the annoying neighbors over for dinner. Maybe he wants more quiet time with you and needs you to say no, instead of yes.
I don’t know what it is for you or how great the cost will be. But I do know that if the King of Kings is asking you to do it, shouldn’t you? I don’t want to be the rich guy who walks away from Jesus’ beauty and goodness, all my possessions and comfort in tow. No, I want to be in the boat with Jesus, discovering his prowess and strength as he calms every storm.
Can't make it to this event? August 18/19 and August 25/26, we will have a similar set up in the Lobby with the groups that are not quite full after each service. For ALL other campuses…Groups Kickoff will take place after the 9am and 11am service this weekend.
Maggie Bartlett is a Colorado native, living in Denver with her husband.
She works at a marketing agency and loves to write, climb mountains and travel in her free time.