I love checklists so much, sometimes I add stuff to a list that I’ve already finished, just so I can check it off. There’s just something about the feeling of satisfaction in completing tasks. It really appeals to me. In fact, I come from a long line of “doers” on my mother’s side. If you want something accomplished, just ask the Underwoods. We will get it done quickly and cheaply. We pride ourselves on it.
Lately, I’ve been realizing that I use busyness as a way to distract myself. I get so focused on a task, that I tend to neglect pretty much everything else. And everyone else. I can’t even tell you how many opportunities I have missed when I’ve been laser-focused on checking off items on my to-do list. I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. They passed me by, and I didn’t even notice them.
It seems like that was the rich young man’s problem, too. He took pride in all he had accomplished since he was a child. Honor your father and mother. Check. Do not steal. Check. Do not lie. Check. Do not murder or commit adultery. Check, check. And it’s good that he was able to avoid all those sins. An honest and honorable life is a good thing. But it’s not good enough. It will never be good enough.
Jesus made that pretty clear when he emphasized, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) And the rich young man missed the ultimate good that was standing right in front of him. There was Jesus, looking at this guy and loving him, inviting him to come and hang out with him! Can you even imagine? This was Jesus, who had already been teaching amazing things that baffled religious leaders! Jesus, who had already cast out unclean spirits and healed all kinds of injuries, disfigurements and illnesses! Jesus, who demonstrated that he had power over even the weather! There was nothing that Jesus could not accomplish. And he invited this young man to come and be one of his followers. To enjoy a front row seat to miracles, a personal connection to the God of the universe, in an earthly body that could actually hug him. Shouldn’t that have been the happiest moment of this guy’s life? What experience could possibly compare?
Instead, the wealthy young man felt disheartened. Crestfallen. Disappointed. What Jesus asked him to give up — his possessions — felt like too huge a sacrifice to make. How very sad. This man missed out on the ultimate good, because he couldn’t let go of the lesser good he already had. His hands were too full of his own accomplishments and stuff to embrace the Savior of the world! A life-changing opportunity, offered and rejected.
He’s not the only one who has missed out. I am a grateful believer, saved by grace through faith in the same Jesus Christ. I actually have the Holy Spirit in me, closer to me than even my clothes. But I am coming to realize that I’m missing out on opportunities to hear God’s voice, to melt into his secure embrace, all because I am so focused on distracting myself with checking off items on my to-do list. Don’t get me wrong. Much of what I busy myself with is good stuff. But it will never be the ultimate good. Only God is that.
At some point in the next 24 hours, a free moment will present itself. There are lots of good things you could fill that time with, but there is only one ultimate good. Devote yourself in that moment to listening to God. To basking in the beautiful realization that he looks on you with as much love in his expression as he had for that rich young man more than 2,000 years ago. Fill your free moments with a life-changing experience with God. It’s worth any sacrifice. It won’t disappoint.