I'm Officially No Fun Anymore

2:27 PMHeather

I realize that I used to be fun.  A lot more fun.  I think I can officially proclaim that I'm not as fun anymore.  

Before this current little "growing" season of my life, I used to read the story of the rich young ruler in the Bible, and I'd think, "DUDE!  That rich guy just got served by Jesus!"  Yep.  Poor guy.  With all that money... but money can't buy you eternal life.  Too bad for him." 

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.  Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Luke 18:18-27

Good thing I'm not rich.  Whew.  One thing to be thankful for in the reality of my middle class life.  That rich guy must have gone straight to the nearest market to drown his sorrows in some retail therapy.  Yep, he cheered him up with lots of shopping.  Drowned his sorrows in his riches.  Might have missed the kingdom, but hey!  He had power and wealth on earth.

News flash.  It's hit me square between the eyes. 

I am the rich young ruler.  I have plenty.  I have an abundance, in fact.  I am a comfortable rich American Christian, living in a nice house where everyone has their own bedroom, our pantry is stocked, and our closets are full.  We have running water--hot water, in fact.  Indoor plumbing.  Steady income.  And are able to meet many wants that we've convinced ourselves are actually needs.

I sit here and pat myself on the back for following the rules of living a nice little Christian life.  I go to church, I read my Bible, I listen to worship music.  I'm fun!  I think I've got my spiritual life pretty much in order.  Oh, there's always room for improvement.  But, you know.  All in all, I'm doing pretty good.

Except there's more.  Indeed.  Much more.  As I read things like David Platt's Radical, Jen Hatmaker's 7 Experiment, and Kisses from Katie I can no longer deny that I am, in fact, the rich young ruler.  I've been asking God to break my heart for what breaks his.  Geez, who knew how much THAT was going to hurt?  And I think I still have a very long way to grow.   (Funny.  I meant to type "go" not "grow."  But, I think "grow" is actually much more appropriate).   It's the unknown of what lies ahead.  And it's scary.

Ugh.  Not fun.  Nope, not fun at all.  

Jesus' motivation in his directive to the rich young ruler, I believe, had nothing to do with possession or bank accounts.  It's not that Jesus had some nearby ministry in mind who needed some money to meet their annual operating costs.

Nope, Jesus knew his Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills.   

No, the truth of it is that Jesus just wanted to cut to the chase.  The real obstacle for the rich young ruler was NOT what he owned.  Nope, it was what owned him.  His wealth owned him, you see.  It had such a hold on him that he couldn't let go.  Or rather, he wouldn't let go.  His heart motive and his priorities were more for the material wealth than it was to do the hard thing and surrender.   He wanted his comfortable life.  

He was unwilling to become uncomfortable for Christ.

How like him I am.  I read this in the intro to Kisses from Katie about her choice to live in poverty-stricken Uganda:  

"People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid.  I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable." 

Hmm.  Much more afraid of remaining comfortable.  The rich young ruler was afraid of being UNcomfortable.  He was missing out on blessings beyond his wild dreams and an eternal salvation he couldn't fathom because he did not see the danger in being comfortable.

I think I may be ever so slightly realizing the danger of remaining comfortable.  This is not exactly where I saw this year of gratitude taking me, mind you.  I thought I wanted to live my fun, status quo Christian life. Come on, folks!  We're good enough! 

But, I'm learning that there is so much more.  I've stood around and admired my well-ordered faith.  Yet, God is using this 7 experiment to shine a spotlight into the closets and nooks and crannies where I've been hoarding junk.  

Junk like downplaying the responsibility I have to take care of this temple I've been given.  My body and health are indeed a gift.  And stewardship is commanded.  I've applauded that idea while ignoring all the harder, uncomfortable ways I can take better care of myself.  

Check.  Quit being comfortable.  For me, that looks like an early to rise and exercise time and more intentional about my food.  Let me tell you, 5:15 a.m. work outs are uncomfortable.  Putting down the junk food and sodas is uncomfortable.  Yet, I can't tell you how incredible it feels to know I'm getting stronger.  And I'm being obedient to the specific things God is calling me to do for myself.

I'm also learning that I do, in fact, tend to care more about man's approval with my clothes than I am about making my heart more beautiful for God's approval.  I stockpile clothes I don't need because I convince myself that I deserve them.  As I said yesterday, I stand in a big, crowded closet whining about having nothing to wear.

Boo.  No unnecessary retail therapy because I can have better stewardship with my funds.  How unfun is that, right?  That I would stop and realize my wealth and the great needs around the world that I can do something about.  The power to serve and minister and be used by God to bless others because He has so blessed me.  To follow God's commands to care for the least of these.

Not comfortable.  But, if Katie Davis gives any indication, this type of service and heart attitude might actually become fun, once surrendered to the big things God might want to do.  Oh, hey.  That's radical.  What I thought was unfun but was willing to get uncomfortable to do might actually become fun?!  Crazy.

How about possessions?  Yes, I'm on week 3 of the 7 week experiement.  Do I own my things or do they own me?  What's my motive?  To impress others and keep up with the Joneses'?  Or to be hospitable and generous and loving and to create a house filled with love...filled with Jesus.  Where others enter and are not necessarily impressed by what I have but are touched by how I serve.

So very convicting.  Not too fun to stare down your heart motives and thought life dead in the face and realize some faults that need dire attention.  Brutal to shine the light into every crevice of your heart and see what needs to be purged.  Selfish motives feeding on the altar of self-service.  Entitlement piling up where giving could run rampant.  Flat out laziness where better health might reside.  Good enough taking up all the space where God's best could move in.

Yep.  Officially not fun.  At least by the world's standards.  I think the rich young ruler thought that Jesus spoiled all his fun.  I think I've been wrestling with that pity party myself.

Party's over, self.  Time to move on.  Time to see the extravagant celebration and jubilation just waiting around the corner.  Time to exchange the "comfortable" hum-drum for the "uncomfortable" that leads to blessings that will blow my socks off.  Time to do a little more dying to self and to be willing to get outta my comfort zone and past my status quo.  

Be willing to stand up and recognize that yes, God wants so much more.  If I'm willing to give it.  And it's an exchange that I'm promised I'll never regret.  It's an offering that will lead to places of immeasurably more.  When I clear myself out and loosen my grip on things of this world, then and only then, can God move into new places within me so that I might hold fast to Him in new ways.  For new adventures.  For new blessings.  For eternal treasure.  

How I am clinging to the last part of that story of the rich young ruler.  

What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Have your fun here, Lord.  Make your way! 

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