Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. [Matthew 19:21-22 (NLT)]
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. [Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT)]
Like any mother, I remember my children’s first steps. After hesitantly pulling themselves up and taking a few tentative steps, they soon realized they could cruise along while holding onto something or someone. Eventually, the tots became bold enough to let go of one piece of furniture and reach toward another to continue their adventures. A fair amount of parental urging, however, was usually needed to get them to finally let go of furniture, walls or people and walk completely on their own. But, after taking those first solo steps, there was no stopping them. Off they went exploring a new, wonderful and limitless world while I wondered why I’d been in such a rush see them walk.
Like a toddler learning to walk or the rich man in today’s verse, are we reluctant to let go of something that is keeping us from a new, wonderful and limitless world in Christ? The rich man was unwilling to let go of his wealth—are we afraid to release our grip on possessions that encumber us? Is there an unhealthy relationship holding us from a relationship with Jesus? Have we become too comfortable in old patterns of behavior or attitudes? Are we unwilling to let go of control and give charge of our lives to Him? Are we hanging on to anger or loath to let go of resentment and forgive? Once we release all that is holding us back, the Kingdom of God is waiting for us. We just need to let go and take that first step.
The difference between the toddler and the Christian, however, is that while the toddler learns to walk completely on his own, once a Christian releases all that is holding him back, he is never alone. God’s hand will hold and sustain him and he need never stumble or fall.