Tag Archives: surrender

A Lesson from the Trees…

We read a lot of books this week about things relating to Christmas and Jesus coming to this earth, but out of all the books represented, one has lingered in my heart and thoughts for the past few days. I began a blog post a few days ago that went something like this…

I got to work early this morning because I knew it was going to be a busy day and I wanted to be prepared. Lying on my desk was the book I was supposed to read to my preschool and Kindergarten students. I had read over the book before and was familiar with it, but knowing I would be reading it to the children who were already wiggly and excited about Christmas break and all the activities, I thought I better get more closely acquainted with the story and possibly act it out instead of just reading through it.

As I read the book, I had a hard time holding back the tears. The Legend of the Three Trees depicts the story from the perspective of these three trees that are cut down to create three different objects all fitting into the life of Jesus. As I read about each tree, I could not help but apply the story to my life and my wants and desires. It was as if God was gently whispering to me that He knew the desires of my heart, but the things He wanted to do in my life would bring about a very different outcome than if I followed my own plans and dreams.

The first tree had great dreams and plans that it would be chopped down and made into a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels and encrusted with precious stones. It would bring happiness to all who possessed it. The second tree wanted to be a great ship and travel and carry precious cargo to countries around the world. The third tree wanted nothing more than to be left standing and to grow straight and tall and be beautiful right where it was and to spend its days there looking out over the hill.

What actually happened to the three trees was quite different than they had dreamed. They were all chopped down and separated. The first tree ended up as a feed box for cattle and other barn animals. The second tree became a small fishing boat. The third tree was cut into long boards and stacked in a lumber yard to be used at a later date. None of them achieved the dreams they had envisioned and hoped for all their lives.

The story continued…one night in the barn, the feed box became a manger and inside it held the most precious gift that earth could ever receive…the baby Jesus. Many years later, the same fishing boat supported the feet of a man who cried “Peace. Be Still!” calming the storm and bringing the boat safely to land. A few months later, the third tree found two of its beams placed together to form a cross that supported our Savior and the tree once again found itself on a hill overlooking the earth, but also raising up a sinless sacrifice that would end the repeated need for atonement for our sins.

Three destinies…but oh, so different from what they had planned.

It has spoken to my heart over and over again since I read the story. Each time I acted out the story for my little ones, the message ingrained itself more deeply into my heart and soul. Each destiny became a part of who I am and where I am at this point in my life.

For you see, I have wanted to possess great wealth and to be able to make those happy who came in contact with me. I wanted to be able to give financially to those in need. I wanted to be able to make great things happen. But, I did not consider that instead of giving out great wealth, I needed to be filled with it, and that only then, would I have something to give.

You see, the first tree thought of wealth only as something recognized by its appearance of gold and encrusted jewels. That tree only thought it could give happiness by allowing others to take from it, when in reality, the most precious gift was placed inside it and only then could it reach out and bring happiness to those around it.

I have wanted to travel and seek adventure upon many shores, in many lands. I have wanted to experience life to the fullest and be able to say I have visited country after country and state after state and enjoyed all of God’s majesty and the wonders this world has to offer. That has been a desire of my heart for a long time; however, I have found myself in a small pond, or lake, or sea, with a limited choice of destination. Life has allowed me some liberties, but mostly I have been confined to the task at hand. It could get a little stinky like all those dead fish and it could become monotonous at times.

Perhaps, I didn’t realize that it is not the destination that provides the adventure or miraculous event, but it is the situation and opportunity that allows miracles to be performed. The second tree experienced a traumatic event that lead to a miraculous occurrence, for it is only in the storm that Jesus can calm the waters. Without the storm there would have been no need for Jesus to speak and take control of the situation. It is Who is in the boat that counts, not the location of the boat.

And, most of all, I can relate to the third tree. Change is difficult. When you are comfortable and you just want to stay in one place and grow and view things from a certain perspective, it hurts to be chopped down, stripped of your bark, limbs, and leaves, and cut into planks. The view changes and for a while you may see only a stack of dusty lumber. You cannot feel the wind as it blows through your branches. You cannot feel the sun as it beats down and warms your leaves. You cannot softly sway in the breeze and watch as others enjoy a picnic under your shade. You are stacked in a pile in waiting mode. Everything in life as you know it has changed. The bark has been taken away and you are lying there with nothing familiar and no idea what will happen next, if anything at all.

I think that must have been how the third tree felt. All it wanted was to remain where it was. I have felt like that so many times lately. I have gotten comfortable and when I began to feel a little chop beginning to shake my foundation, I have wanted to find a way to retreat. Fear of the unknown loomed over me and threatened my peace.

Of all the trees, the third tree must have had such mixed emotions about its role in life. To be chosen to be the cross that crucified Jesus was both glorious and horrible. To contribute to the Savior’s death by being the instrument used to crucify Him was never anything the tree wanted to be in life. To cause pain to the One who loved and created it was such an ironic destiny.

I am sure the tree would have wept if it had the capability because becoming a cross would have been the furthest thing from its heart’s desire. Yet, when the blood of Jesus began to seep out and onto that cross, I cannot help but believe the tree felt its wood begin to tingle and as the blood covered it, something rose up in the tree and it began to realize there was much more to this than just a terrible ordeal leading to death. The view from this hill was majestic in a very different sort of way. The darkness, earthquake, thunder and lightning all bear witness that surely this was the Messiah and the realization of the importance of the moment began to permeate the tree.

What if the tree had been left standing on the hill? It would never have experienced the salvation of the world through the death of Jesus. It would have been beautiful just as it was, but it would not have known of the events, the suffering, the agony, or the miraculous resurrection that covered the sins of the entire earth.

I don’t know about you, but I have dreams and desires. I have mentioned this in my previous paragraphs. I have goals that I would like to achieve and I have plans that I would like to follow through with at certain points in my life. However, my desires and plans and dreams are from the finite thinking and keyhole perspective that only I can see.

God’s ways are higher than our ways. His plans may include some chopping. They may include removing me completely from certain situations or changing my view. I may have to wait at some points. I may be disappointed when greater adventures and opportunities pass me by while I float on a small pond with the smell of stinky fish all around me. I may have to serve. I may have to work. I may have to leave all that is comfortable.

I am not sure. I just know that if I yield myself to God’s plan for my life instead of viewing things from my own selfish perspective, I will find the original destination was so very limited compared to what God wants to do with my life.

God loves me and knows the desires of my heart, but even more than that, He knows how to fulfill them in a way that I never dreamed possible. The picture may look a little different than I had anticipated, but the end result will be beyond what I can imagine.

Dear God,

Help me to place my life in Your hands and allow You to do with me as you see fit. Show me that dreaming is good, but only You can take those dreams and make them into something more beautiful and purposeful than I can ever imagine. Help me to look past the situation to see the miraculous. Help me to realize that a simple manger, a small boat, and two beams of wood can be used to change the lives of the entire world. In Your hands, in your time, let me be all that You want me to be for You.

In Jesus’ name,


Until next time,



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A Lesson in Love…

I wrote this part of the blog post last night when God began to deal with me about love and the frustration I felt because I was convicted about my actions this past week. I didn’t finish the blog post because I was tired and went to bed, but now I know why I didn’t finish it. God had to work on me all night long to help me understand my frustration and what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t love like I am supposed to love without failing. Here is how it began:

Two in a row. Wow! I don’t usually write this much in one day. It just seems like it should be about midnight right now, but it is only a little after seven in the evening and there are only so many Christmas movies and cooking shows that I can handle in one evening. The wind is whipping over the water and the temperature is dropping. I can feel a little cold air seeping in through the fireplace. All the holiday movies are playing and it is conveniently snowing on the screen which contributes to the overall chilly atmosphere the weather is presenting us with tonight. My previously injured knee is aching making me fully aware that I have developed a new weather alert system. The more intense the ache, the more likely a cold front is heading our way. I am comfortably nestled in the recliner with my warm, fuzzy pajama pants and a well-worn t-shirt. (Yes, the neck is cut out-for those of you who know I cannot stand those high-necked shirts.)

I have something on my mind. It has plagued me most of my life. I yo-yo back and forth with it and today, I saw something again that made me go right back to my previous thoughts and conclusions. You see, it is about love. I think I fail at that a lot. I justify some of my actions thinking that I am protecting myself from hurt or that I am not allowing people to take advantage of me, but I have a hard time getting past this Scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

There it was again. The Scripture and a picture:


“Wuv. Twue Wuv”….Sorry. I had a Princess Bride moment.

I can’t do this. I fail all the time at loving people like this. I don’t trust. I notice when someone does me wrong. I get angry. I get hurt. I keep track sometimes…I have tried to let that go, but it is hard. I want what I want. I am self-seeking at times.

I have a hard time with patience. I saw a prayer on Facebook on one of those e-cards. The guy was asking God to actually give him patience and not the circumstances that cause him to learn patience. I can relate to that.

Sometimes I take things others dish out and don’t walk away because of this Scripture. Sometimes I endure a lot of hurt from repeated incidents because of this Scripture. Sometimes my friends get frustrated with me for allowing people to take advantage or for accepting them as if nothing happened when they return from a previous incident…but I do it because of this Scripture.

Back to this morning…

That is as far as I got last night. It is probably a good thing because I would have come to the wrong conclusion. I would have said “it can’t be done” and let it go at that. I would have said that I need to keep trying and I would have asked for forgiveness and continued in the path until the next time I felt convicted. That is what I have done in the past because I was looking at myself and thinking that I had to do this within my own power.

You see the key is not trying to love while really stuffing down your real feelings in order to take the hurt that someone may give you. The answer is not keeping your mouth shut when you want to tear into someone and tell them what all they have done wrong. The answer is not pretending you are not happy when you see someone getting what you think they deserve after they have hurt you. The answer is not manipulating a situation or making someone feel guilty until they do what you want just so you will be happy and it will turn out the way you think it should. All of that is not changing how you are really responding to the situation.  You are just hiding it and at some point it is going to implode or explode and the other person or you are not going to know what happened when it finally surfaces.  You may become violently, physically ill or you may go off into a nonsensical tirade on that other person when they have no idea where it is coming from or why you chose that moment to explode.  You are not truly resolving or letting things go if you are reacting in a way different from what you are feeling inside and you are acknowledging.  It is still there. You are just showing a mask to the outside world. Please don’t pretend you don’t know what I am talking about. We may not always show it, but we do these things.

God gently whispered to me that the answer is “surrender.”

That is it. Surrender to Him.

One of the songs that I have posted here previously and that has been played over and over and over in my car the last few weeks is Casting Crown’s “Just Be Held.” One part of the song says to stop holding on and just be held. It also says “your world is not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”

Sometimes we hold onto things and people and situations because we have to be in control when God really wants us to let go and just let Him hold us. He wants us to surrender to Him and lean on Him and let Him guide our paths. That is Scripture. We get so busy trying to figure it out and wondering why this twist in the path has happened when all we wanted was this other thing and we just think it is all falling apart, and sometimes we become angry at God and at others when we shouldn’t because the key point in the center of it all is that it is what “we” want.  God never promised it.  We just expected it to play out a certain way and became disappointed when it didn’t.  That is where I was this past week.  That is not where I am now….

Once He whispered that to me about surrender, it all made sense.

If you read my post yesterday, you saw a comment from one of my friends who NEVER posts a public comment (until yesterday), but who communicates with me regularly via email, phone, or dinner conversation. She introduced me to https://www.reviveourhearts.com/ website and a lady named Nancy Leigh DeMoss, now Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She just married last weekend at the age of 55. She wanted me to watch and listen to the unfolding relationship between Nancy and her now husband, Robert, and about how God brought him into her life.

My first reaction to all of this was that I am not her and I am not that spiritual and my life has been different, so that didn’t really relate to me. I related more to Robert, the husband, than to Nancy. Nancy surrendered her life to God at a young age and was not sure, but thought she might be called to singleness. She served God with all her heart and did not seek to have romantic relationships.

Robert was married and he and his wife were friends with Nancy throughout the years since he was in publishing and she was the author of many books. His wife passed away from a two year battle with ovarian cancer. It was after her death that he began to correspond with Nancy and their story plays out over a five part radio program on the website. I won’t tell it here, but God was in the middle of it and their wedding was more a reflection of God’s love and the references to the bride of Christ than it was about them.

I was overwhelmed with the spiritual journey and immediately told God that I couldn’t live up to that. I understood more about Robert’s journey and the moment when he realized that he had put Nancy in a place before God because he was emotionally attached in a way that God had to stop him and help him to remember who the Lord of his life should be. I have been there. That I can relate to.

From the time I was old enough to consider it, I thought I would be married and have a family and a big house with a wrap-around front porch and a place to adopt children who had no one. I still have this visual image in my mind of that. I was in a relationship when I was very young. It lasted two and a half years and it was my very first heartbreak. I realize now that I was way too young and that distance and parents played a part in ending it before it became too serious, but it was my first unresolved issue and it haunted me for many years.

I never really “dated” with the exception of three blind dates that were straight from somewhere I won’t mention and that I escaped from as quickly as possible. Dating has been foreign to me. I don’t understand its purpose as the world views it today. I don’t consider being in a relationship with someone unless I consider them to be someone that I could possibly spend the rest of my life with. I am lost on the concept of just dating to have fun. I don’t want to invest time and emotions in something in which I see no future. That may sound serious to some of you, but what is the purpose of dating except to find the one you are supposed to be with? If you can provide me with a valid reason other than that, I will listen. And even saying “find the one” does not resonate with me because I believe if God is truly in control in my life that He will bring the one person that I am supposed to be with into my life at His appointed time.

With that being said, I have really messed up in the past in the relationship department and I have taken situations that I thought God wanted me to be in and made them something they should never have been. As Madea would say, I took a person who was only meant to be in my life for a specific purpose or a season and placed lifetime expectations on them. I somehow took things into my own hands and lost sight of God’s purpose in trying to place someone in a position where they should never have been.  This scares me a bit, but I realize now it is because I had not surrendered in all areas of my life.  I didn’t know how to love outside of my own ability. That is a lot to think about.  I am still thinking about it as I write this. I am wondering how I can convey it to those who are twenty years younger so they won’t make the same mistakes I have made.

So, the few relationships I have been in have been a bit more complicated because they were friendships as well as romantic relationships. I can truly say that I have even been in a relationship that I viewed as a friendship and the guy had pursued me at first for physical reasons, but when he got to know me as a person, we became good friends and never dated. I had no idea what his original intent was until my pastor at the time counseled me because he was concerned about the relationship. I was stunned, but I confronted him and we talked through it and remained friends.

So, basically I have not really dated other than those three dates. I have been in three major relationships in my life, but those were friendships first.

I really don’t know why I am writing all this. I feel like I am digressing, but it is sort of pouring out of me. Perhaps it is because this all relates to love and how to love people and my frustration at failing.

So, let’s get back to that. Surrender. While I don’t think that I am like Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, I do admire her surrender to God. I know she writes about things for women that relate to me, but every step of this relationship, she was on her knees praying for God to show her what to do. She did not give her heart away or say “I love you” until she was ready to say “I will marry you.” The world would be a better place if more of us were like her. We would save ourselves a lot of pain if we were surrendered.

So, I protested about my friend saying that I was like her. I even told God that I was just not that spiritual and if I had to be that spiritual I would never be able to be in a healthy relationship. Then, I found that Scripture and poster on Facebook about love and it really bothered me.

I was really hurt this past week. I had a rough week. I sought a distraction that I thought would make me feel better and that ended up hurting me more. That is because I was not surrendered. I should not have needed to seek a distraction.

Okay. So, God spoke to me throughout the night. He said that if I was truly His and surrendered to Him that no weapon formed against me would prosper. Words spoken to me or against me that would pierce and hurt would not do so because I was His and I was trusting Him to guide my life in every category.

When things did not go my way, I would not be hurt because my way was not His way. When I saw others with things that I thought I wanted I would not be envious because I trusted Him to give me good gifts.

When I would be jealous of things, I would remember that He knew what I needed and in His time He would give me the desires of my heart, but first I must seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

His righteousness. I am so far away from that. I want what I want…or at least I did when I went to bed last night. This morning I have found that my eyes are leaking and my heart is saying…

“Lord, I surrender. That is the only way I will survive. I cannot continue to seek my own way and I cannot continue to be vulnerable to hurt like this. Please help me to remember you are in control and nothing matters except what You want and where you lead me. Help me not to defraud others by speaking words that didn’t come from you, but came from hurt harbored in my heart because I did not get my way. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to be in something that You didn’t design for me. I won’t ever be satisfied with second best. I want the good gifts You send to me. Help me to surrender.”

So, while I am sitting here crying about the things I have said and done that have come from the core of my being and the hurt from not getting my own way, I need to say “I am sorry.”

I hope those I need to apologize to will read this blog post. I hope that I will truly surrender and not cause any more hurt. I hope that from this point forward I will truly be able to love like I am supposed to love and not notice when something is intended to hurt me, or seems unfair to me. I pray that I can let God hold my heart and not try to hold on to mindsets that cause me pain.

I hope the only reflection others will see in me is Jesus and not a jealous, selfish nature that confuses and causes people to want to keep their distance.

I don’t want to seek my own way or try to understand things beyond my comprehension. I want to realize that other people and their journey is not my journey and just because I don’t understand why doesn’t mean my life stops here. I know that where I am today is partly because of the consequences of my actions, but I want the place I will be tomorrow to be where Jesus wants me in a fully surrendered life.

So, please forgive me and give me a chance to start again and love you all with the love that comes from a heart that does not seek its own, nor has its own motive, but loves the way Jesus loves.

While I was editing this blog post a song came to mind.  I realize the meaning behind the original writing was an experience Matt Hammitt of the group Sanctus Real went through with his newborn son who has a heart defect.  While the context of the original lyrics refer to the experience with his son, they are lyrics we can all relate to and I have included the following excerpt and the song because I think it is relevant.  God wants all of us.  I am trying to answer that call and surrender.

I have a feeling that my new Scripture is probably going to be Paul’s statement: “I die daily.” I think that is the only way I will keep God on the throne of my life and lean on Him and not on my understanding. I am looking forward to the straight paths He has for me. No confusion. No hurt. Just trust and surrender.

I read something a friend posted and she mentioned advice given to her about “leaning into it.”  I think that speaks to me.  God tells us to “lean not unto our own understanding…” (Proverbs 3) So, instead of trying to balance on my own, it is time to lean and it is time to remind Him and myself that I am His…every. single. day.

Until next time,


Afraid to love
Something that could break
Could I move on
If you were torn away
And I’m so close
To what I can’t control
I can’t give you half my heart
And pray He makes you whole

You’re gonna have all of me
You’re gonna have all of me
‘Cause you’re worth every falling tear
You’re worth facing any fear
You’re gonna know all my love
Even if it’s not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I’ll start

I won’t let sadness
Steal you from my arms
I won’t let pain keep you from my heart
I’ll trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I’ll share with you

You’re gonna have all of me
You’re gonna have all of me
‘Cause you’re worth every falling tear
You’re worth facing any fear
You’re gonna know all my love
Even if it’s not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts
But giving you all of me
Is where I’ll start

Heaven brought you to this moment
It’s too wonderful to speak
You’re worth all of me
You’re worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you
Even if I bleed
You’re worth all of me
You’re worth all of me

Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary: “God has said it, and we may depend upon it, Seek and you shall find. We have a general rule laid down (Jer. 29:13): “You shall find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” In seeking God we must search for Him, accomplish a diligent search, searching for directions in seeking Him and encouragements to our faith and hope. We must continue seeking, and take pains in seeking, as those who search; and this we must do with our heart, and with our whole heart, with vigor and fervency, putting forth all that is within us in prayer, and those who thus seek God shall find Him.”


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The Heart of the Matter: Post Script to “Trying not to lie: A lesson in waiting”

The Heart of the Matter

As I mentioned in my previous blog post about waiting, God dealt with me all day yesterday. I expected nothing less from Him. He is persistent, but gentle. I guess He knew He had to be. In the end He got what He was asking for and I prayed and meant what I prayed. Sigh. However, while I was battling instead of surrendering, He decided to show me a few more things and I thought I would share those with you. Perhaps it will make a difference if you find yourself in a situation where you are trying to decide whether to fight or to surrender. (Hint: If you are fighting with God, you might as well go ahead and surrender or you will be miserable.)

After I wrote the blog post, I called a close friend and read it aloud over the phone to see what her thoughts were about what I had written. While I was crying and trying to explain what God was doing in my heart, I brought up the subject of the story in the Bible we sometimes call the “Rich Young Ruler.”

The story is in three of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I mentioned to her that I felt like Jesus was looking at me and digging deep into my heart to find what I wasn’t giving up to Him. He knew I was waiting and that I was praying for answers and thanking Him for His promises, but He knew I wasn’t happy about it. So, He dug into my heart and pulled that out and showed it to me and said: “I want you to tell me that you don’t mind waiting.” I told her I felt like the young man in that story. He told Jesus everything he had done and Jesus showed him what he felt he could not give.

I really believe that I know how the young man felt that day. God was asking for what I didn’t know I could give. So, we decided to read that story and I read it in all three books. Here is what I found:

Each version of the story has something to add and is a little bit different. In Matthew, the story says the young man came to Jesus and he called him “Good Master.” Jesus proceeds with the question and asks why the young man is calling Him good, when there is none good but God, and then tells the young man that to enter into eternal life he must keep the commandments. The young man asks Jesus which commandments he needs to keep and Jesus lists them for him. Then the young man tells Jesus he has kept all those since he was a youth. He asks Jesus what is still missing and Jesus tells him that if he wants to be perfect then he needs to go and sell what he has and give to the poor and that he will have treasure in heaven and to come and follow Him. The young man when he heard this went away sorrowful because he had a lot of possessions. (Matthew 19:16-26 KJV)

I am running through this because I want to give you an overview of all three versions and then show you what I saw in them. So, let’s skip Mark’s version of the story and move to Luke:

Luke says a young ruler came to Jesus and asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life. He also says the young ruler calls Jesus “Good Master.” Jesus responds by asking him why he calls Him good and doesn’t wait for an answer, but proceeds to tell him that he already knows the commandments and lists them. The young ruler answers the same way saying he has kept all these from his youth. Jesus looks at him and tells him that he lacks one thing and gives the command to go and sell all he has and distribute to the poor and that he will have treasure in heaven and to come and follow Him. The young ruler was very sorrowful for he was very rich. (Luke 18:18-23) However, Luke does not say the young ruler went away. I want you to take note of that.

Now, let’s go to Mark’s version of the story. (P.S. If you are reading this J.A., I am sorry that I got Mark and Luke backwards when we were discussing it yesterday. Usually Luke is the one writing with compassion and emotion. This time it was Mark.)

Mark begins with…Well, let me just copy it here because I don’t want to leave anything out:

Mark 10:17-22 KJV

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Mark starts off with the man running to Jesus. That tells me his need was great. He knew Jesus was his answer and that is why when he knelt at His feet and he called him Good Master. He knew he was lacking something. He had done everything he knew to do, but something was missing.

Jesus still asks him why he called Him good, but He doesn’t wait for an answer. He then begins to repeat the commandments while the man waits. Now, this next verse is what pierced my heart. This man is kneeling before Jesus. He has poured everything out to Him. Jesus lists all the commandments the man already knows and tries to follow, but Jesus is just going through what has already been written. He knows this is not what is missing in the young man.

“And Jesus beholding him loved him…”

He saw the young man in his position at His feet and dug straight down into his heart to get to the root of the problem. Jesus knew what was going to happen. His compassion and His love overflowed for the young man even as He knew what He was about to ask would be the hardest thing the young man ever heard. When I read that yesterday it brought tears to my eyes again. Jesus will let us have our form of religion and holiness and rule following and when we come before Him and tell Him that we have done all these things He looks at us and loves us and then He reaches down into the heart of the matter to find the root of the problem. Mine went something like this:


I thank You for all You have done. I thank You for this day. Please forgive me of anything I have done that is not pleasing to You. Lord, I have thanked You every day for working a miracle in my friend’s life. You asked me to do that and I am doing it. I have written and posted and shared the Living Free videos. I have been open about what this has done in my life. Yes, I struggle and have to ask You for help, but I am doing all I know to do. Why is nothing changing? What do I lack? What is wrong? Why do things seem to get worse in some areas? Please show me what I need to do….

Does that sound familiar? Perhaps not, but that is me. Then Jesus looked at me and He loved me. Right there in all my emotionalism. He saw me…meaning He saw into my heart just like He did that day with the rich young ruler. And He sees that I have asked Him what else He requires, so He just goes for the heart of the matter….I need you to tell Me that you don’t mind waiting.

You see Jesus loved the rich young ruler and He knew everything about him. He knew that he was rich. He knew that he had possessions. He knew that his security lay in those things whether they were connections he had from his wealth, relationships he had, stuff he collected, or whether it was the security of the lifestyle he lived. Jesus knew the man was in a position where he could keep all the commandments and still live the life he wanted to live in the comfort of his wealth and possessions. He wanted his way AND eternal life. The heart of the matter was what he held dear and could not imagine living without. Jesus went straight for that because He knew the young man held all that above serving Him.

So…Jesus told him to go and sell all that he had and give to the poor and to come and follow Him. All of the versions say the young man was sorrowful because he had great possessions, wealth, etc… Mark says he went away grieved because he had great possessions.

Luke does not say he went away and I am hoping that in his grief he stayed somewhere on the sidelines because Jesus immediately went into the parable about it being hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

The disciples and those around Him were astonished and begin to question and Jesus tells them about the dangers of trusting in riches. Then Mark says:

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)

But that is not all. Peter then says to Jesus that they have left everything to follow Him. And Jesus says:

“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30).

Somehow I cannot help but wonder when Jesus looked upon them that He was looking for that rich young ruler. I cannot help but hope that somewhere in his grief on the sidelines the young man heard the rest of what Jesus had to say. I hope he did not walk away with only half of the promise.

Jesus challenged him by getting to the root of his problem. He saw his heart and he spoke directly to it. Jesus had to know that young man would give up anything and everything to follow Him. He had to know it just wasn’t following a bunch of rules, but that the young man’s heart was truly sold out to Him. He had to know that no matter what He asked, the young man would be willing to do it. Jesus had to know that young man meant it when he called him “Good Master.”

I like to think the young man was still there and he heard what Jesus said in those next few verses. I like to hope that he didn’t leave defeated and hopeless. Luke did not say he went away, so there is a little loophole for my hope because if he stayed, he would have realized that Jesus doesn’t take anything away that He will not restore a hundredfold. Those verses prove it. That is not just talking about in heaven, but in this present life as well.

It reminds me of Job. We read forty-one chapters in Job where everything is taken away. It took me a while to realize what the root of Job’s problem was…it was pride. He considered himself a righteous man and self-righteousness is as filthy rags according to the Bible. God had to get to the heart of the matter with Job, so He allowed the captivity to come and the losses.

But, we have one chapter that gives us the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say. God restored everything, twice as much to Job. In Job 42:10 it says:

“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

The word “captivity” stands out to me because of all I have been reading and watching lately. Job was bound by pride. The rich young ruler was also bound by pride and possessions and things and relationships and connections, etc… Neither were willing to give them up for God.

God knows what our hearts are holding back. He gets right to the heart of the matter. We are captive to those things we do not surrender to Him. He can only do so much with us when we are not completely surrendered. It is only when we realize and hold nothing back that He can come in and do what He needs to do.

God will never be indebted to us. If He takes something away, He will provide something else. If we give to Him, He will give back to us more. I want to believe the rich young ruler stayed around to hear the rest of Jesus’ message to him that day. I know Job stayed around and when God showed him where the root of the problem lay, he repented.

I have given my impatience to God. I was finally able to tell Him that I don’t mind waiting. I will continue to tell Him that each day and refresh it in my mind to keep my priorities straight just like I will continue give myself to Him again each day, so that I will be reminded to stay in full surrender to His will rather than my own.

I pray there is something in this that you can use, but if not it will serve as a reminder to me there is nothing worth holding onto if it comes between me and Jesus. He is a jealous God, but when we completely surrender He will come and give back to us far above what we held and considered precious and thought we could not let go.

I don’t mind waiting on you, Lord.

Until next time,


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