3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Remaining

Copy of abide

When my husband graduated from seminary, his first call as a pastor was to a church in Missoula, Montana. He had asked for placement in the northeastern part of the United States. So naturally, the powers that be thought Montana would be perfect.

When we first arrived in the city, we immediately wanted to leave. We knew no one. Our family was all in the Midwest or the Northeast. We were lonely and disillusioned. But God asked us to stay–to remain.

This word–remain–helps me understand the concept of abiding in Christ. Lately, I’ve been studying the word abide: What does it mean to abide? What does abiding look like in real life? How can abiding change me?

One of the English meanings of the word abide is “to dwell or reside” as in “I abide in a quaint but remote mountain village.” When you abide somewhere you live there. You stay there. You remain there.

To abide is to remain.

South African pastor Andrew Murray wrote:

It is faith in what Christ is, more than anything else, that will keep you abiding in Him…there is nothing wanting but just my consent to be what He has made me, to remain where He has placed me. I am in Christ.

To remain is to accept who I am in Christ–to not try to be something I’m not.

To remain is to be content where I am–to not fight the place or position God has placed me in.

To remain is to trust God’s goodness, His timing, and His plans for my life.

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeRemaining

Remaining sounds easy. And it is–if you like where you are.

But when the place God has placed you is filled with difficulty–you simply want to move on.

When we first moved to Missoula, Montana we wanted to leave. We did not want to stay. The heartache of loneliness made us want to move on.

But eventually, we grew to love Missoula. Its setting in the Rocky Mountains is stunning. The people of our church were welcoming. The ministry was rewarding.

Remaining was not easy, but in the end, it was worth it.

As I continue to study what it means to abide in Christ, I am learning that it means to remain where He has placed me. To accept His plan for my life. 

This changes my life. If I make the decision to abide, I don’t spend my energy trying to move ahead of God’s will. I don’t constantly struggle against my place or position in life. Instead, I focus on what God wants me to do where I am right now. I remain in His love, drawing on His strength to produce fruit where He has placed me.

To abide is to remain.

Next step: Is remaining easy or difficult for you right now? Ask the Father to give you the strength to remain and produce fruit where you are–whatever your place or station in life.

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Go to the God of Suffiency

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband, John, and I were first married, our vehicle was a used Dodge Polara–nicknamed the tuna boat. It was a huge car and not very attractive. But it got us where we needed to go–with the help of my husband’s fix-it skills.

At one point, the Polara needed a new fuel pump. John called the local junkyard and the person on the other end of the line assured John that he had the needed part. So John drove all the way out to the junkyard only to find that, no, there were no fuel pumps for Dodge Polaras. He ended up going to a car parts store much nearer to our apartment in order to find what the necessary piece to fix the car.

The junkyard was not the right place to find what we needed–even though John had been assured that it was.

Life is like that too. We search and search for what will make our hearts happy and our lives fulfilled. Satan whispers in our ear that we will find it in getting a new sweater or a new car or a new husband. Too often we listen to his lies only to find that we have been looking in the wrong place for satisfaction. Even Satan knows that the only place to find enough is in the God of sufficiency. But to keep us from going to the True Source, he keeps misdirecting us.

Jesus tells us the right place to go to find the fulfillment of our needs. He told His disciples:

Don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Luke 12:29-32

Jesus reminded His followers that they didn’t need to worry about food or clothing because the Father promised to look after their needs. Just as God cared for the grass waving in the fields and birds nesting in the trees, He would provide for them too.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-

Jesus tells all of us: “Look, you don’t have to be like the rest of the world chasing after things in the hope that possessions or positions will fill the emptiness inside. Live in trust that I know what you need. You are a part of my flock, you are following me. But like sheep, you don’t know what you need as well as your Shepherd does. Remember Your Father is a loving parent who takes great happiness in giving you the kingdom.”

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. He makes us yearn for enough so that we learn to trust Him for all that we need and desire. Jesus said, “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). He reproaches our puny faith. But He also invites us to have confidence in the Father who even dresses transitory grass in beautiful colors and feeds tiny, insignificant birds.

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings. Click To Tweet

My husband listened to a salesman’s words and went to the wrong place to find what he needed. In the same way, we can listen to Satan’s lies and later find that we have been looking for contentment in the wrong places. Or we can go to the God of sufficiency and trust that whatever He gives us is enough.

Next step: What lies has Satan been telling you lately? Where have you been trying to find enough–only to discover it is the wrong place. Bring all your longings to the God of sufficiency.

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Reject the Myth That More Stuff Equals More Happiness

too often we believeamore stuff = more happiness

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

A while ago a local charity called and asked if I had any clothing or small household goods that I would like to donate.

Of course, I did.

In fact, I had just finished reorganizing my bookshelves, closets, and cabinets. On the day of the charity pickup, I set out four large boxes of books, two boxes of CDs and records (yes, I still had some old school technology), and five garbage bags of out-of-date clothes and no-longer-loved home accent pieces.

I was so happy to send these things to a new home, but there was one depressing thing about the process: Even after getting rid of all that stuff, my house did not look much different. My closet was still full. My bookshelves still held hundreds of books.

I still had a lot of stuff.

I am not the only one whose house is full of clothes, dishes, games, DVDs, books, and the occasional Nordic Track clothes rack. Judging by the more than 1700 books listed on Amazon on the subject of organizing clutter, there are a few other people who have trouble corralling their belongings. One might even make the case that Americans are addicted to stuff.

So why do we continue to accumulate things? Why do we feel the need to own more and more?

Because society and our human nature tell us this equation is true:

More Stuff = More Happiness.

Using that equation, our minds compute a subset of calculations: A new boat means fun outings on the lake. Money in the bank equals financial security. A big-screen TV means hours of enjoyable entertainment.

And if we buy more and save more and make more and still aren’t happy, we don’t question the equation. Instead, we assume we don’t have enough stuff. We believe that when we add to the amount on the left side of the equation, the right side will also increase.

Copy of 4 Keys to Finding Enough-

Because of this we never seem to have enough. Many studies have been done on how much money it takes to make someone feel wealthy and the results have been surprisingly consistent. Almost everyone feels that they would have enough if they had just twice what they have now. The worker making $40,000 would feel rich if he made $80,000. The person with two million dollars in the bank would feel he had enough if he had four million.

We think more will make us happier. And so, we never have enough.

But let’s reject that equation. Because it isn’t true.

Sure, getting the new handbag you’ve been saving for may bring a thrill at first. But it is sure to get scuffed or dirty. Or you see your friend’s new bag and wish you had seen that one first. Suddenly, what you have does not bring happiness.

The author of Hebrews wrote:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

We could also say, “Keep your life free from the love of handbags, shoes, home decor, or whatever else you are basing your happiness on. Be content with what you have. Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God’s presence and joy is a sure thing.”

Getting more does not guarantee happiness. But God's presence and joy is a sure thing. Click To Tweet

Next step: When you find yourself falling for the lie that more stuff equals more happiness, recognize it for the myth that it is. Rest in God’s presence. Ask Him for contentment for what you have.


4 Keys to Finding Enough: Watch Out for Satan’s Lies

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When I was a kid, my dad had a habit of pushing back from the table after a delicious and enormous feast and saying, “I spoiled my appetite.”

Of course, he spoiled his appetite. He had eaten two servings of roast beef, a generous mound of mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and two pieces of apple pie. He was no longer hungry.

My siblings and I laughed at my father’s joke every time.

But a spoiled appetite isn’t always so funny.

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

It all started back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything they could want: delicious food, rewarding work without any of the problems, weather so delightful that clothes were unnecessary. They didn’t need anything. And yet, Satan knew how to tempt them—to make them think they didn’t have enough.

God had given Adam and Eve permission to eat from any tree in the garden—except one. He told them that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan, however, tried to convince them otherwise. He said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).  He insinuated that God was holding out on them. He tempted the first couple to want more—to be like God. Suddenly all the Creator had given was not sufficient.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Satans Lies

Satan continues to tempt us with the idea of more. He tells us that God is withholding His best from us. He whispers that what we currently have couldn’t possibly be enough.

To combat Satan’s lies, we need to arm ourselves with God’s truth. His Word tells us:

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Matthew 6:31-32

God promises to meet our needs. We may not always have everything we want and sometimes we may not get everything we need as quickly as we like, but God daily cares for us. He wants us to trust Him.

To combat Satan's lies, we need to arm ourselves with God's truth. Click To Tweet

So when you are struggling with contentment, recognize Satan’s lies. He trying to spoil your appetite for God. He wants you to think God is holding out on you.

Instead, rest in the fact that God cares for you and promises to care for you.Trust Him for all your needs. Let Him be your enough.

Next step: Think about what lies Satan may be trying to get you to believe. Print out the Scriptures on God’s provision and post them where you can review them when Satan tries to whisper in your ear.



4 Keys to Finding Enough: Recognize Your Broken Wanter

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls-

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough.

When my husband and I were first married, we moved all of our belongings into our first apartment by loading used furniture onto a borrowed snowmobile trailer. (Can you tell I’m from Wisconsin?) The next time we moved we needed a small U-Haul truck and the next time a bigger truck. Each time we moved we had acquired more things and needed a bigger truck to cart those belongings to a new home.

I don’t think we are the only ones. Our society excels in collecting things. We fill closets with clothes, shoes, and accessories. We stuff garages with cars, bikes, and tools. We pile up dinnerware in our cupboards and mementos in our basements. And if all those places get too full, we can drive down the street and rent a storage space. There is always room for more.

Except, do we really need more? Could it be that the accumulation of more is filling our homes but draining our energy? That the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Perhaps the popularity of stories about the Amish way of life and blogs about minimalism demonstrate that we’re sick of excess. We long for simplicity and yet we struggle with the question, “What is enough?”

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls? Click To Tweet

Part of the problem is that ever since Adam and Eve gave into an appetite for forbidden fruit and a thirst to be like God, we have been stuck with broken wanters. A wanter that can make me crave a slice of decadent chocolate cheesecake even after I’ve had soup, salad, and an enormous platter of chicken marsala. A wanter that can make me long for those adorable red pumps in the shoe store window even though I have twenty-five pairs of shoes in the closet. Our broken wanters prevent us from attaining enough.

In fact, our wanters are so broken, that we sometimes we have difficulty in discerning our true desires. Damaged wanters are so prevalent that a new profession has sprung up. For only $300 an hour you can hire a wantologist—someone who will help you distinguish what you really want from what you only think you want. For instance, you might go to a wantology session with a wish for a promotion at work and leave with the realization that what you really want is to quit your job. Because of our broken wanters, we don’t know what will actually satisfy our souls. So, we continually search for the next bauble, the next promotion, the next relationship that we are sure will bring happiness.

4 Keys to Finding Enough-Broken Wanter

Scripture tells us about our broken wanters:

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Ephesians 4:22

Our old sinful natures are twisted and tainted by deceitful desires. Desires for things that we think will make us happy, but fail us every time. We fall for Satan’s lies that this item, this relationship, this money will satisfy.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be stuck with broken wanters. Psalm 37:4 tells us:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

When the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts and we are able to find joy in the almighty Lord, He gives us desires of the heart. Desires for things that will truly satisfy our souls. Instead of seeking the next bauble or the next promotion we long for God’s peace, God’s love, God’s grace which are always free.

On our own, we are incapable of achieving enough. But one of the ways we can find contentment is to recognize our broken wanters and ask the Lord to give us authentic desires.

Next step: Make a list of things you currently long for. How many of these things are guaranteed to satisfy your soul? Ask God to give you desires for things that will truly satisfy your soul.



When You Struggle With Enough


When I was a little kid sitting in church listening to the pastor read the Bible, I loved it when Psalm 23 was one of the day’s lessons. I would look up at the big stained glass window of Jesus holding a little lamb. I could easily picture Jesus as a Shepherd playing with the sheep, leading them to a bubbling creek, finding their favorite snack—green grass.

But one part of the psalm always puzzled me: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” What could that mean? Didn’t David want God to be his shepherd? Did he want a different shepherd?

One Sunday after church when Psalm 23 was again part of the service, I decided to ask my mother, “Mom, what does that part of that psalm mean—I shall not want?”

“Well, it means that because God was David’s shepherd, David didn’t want anything else.”

Mmm…this seemed even more confusing. I was still at the age when I thought my mother knew everything, so I didn’t question her. But I didn’t understand. Sure her answer made more sense than not wanting Jesus for a shepherd. But how could David not want anything else? Didn’t he want food or clothes? How could you not want chocolaty fudgesicles or Barbie dolls?

Now that I’m a little more grown up (I still love fudgesicles) I understand a bit more. David’s statement, “I shall not want” meant that he was content with what he had. He was saying, “Because God is taking care of me, I have everything I need.” He trusted that God would not only provide food and clothes but rest and comfort, protection and mercy. David was wearing the color of contentment.

When I’m wearing envy green I’m constantly looking at what I don’t have. I’m comparing what I have with what I see others possess. I complain that what I have is not enough.

But on those rare occasions when I put on the color of contentment, I remember that God has always taken care of me. I begin to trust that He really does know what He is doing and is leading me on the path that is best for me. Instead of complaining about what I don’t have, I start to notice the blessings already in reach.

Lately, I’ve heard God whispering the word enough. Through His Word I hear Him asking me to look at what I already have and realize that it is exactly what I need right now. The Shepherd gently tells me, “I love you. If you needed more, I would give you more. Trust me—you have enough.”

My Shepherd tells me, “I love you. If you needed more, I would give you more. Trust me—you have enough.” Click To Tweet

When I struggle to get rid of my envy green outfit, I try to take myself back to the view of the stained glass window of Jesus holding the little lamb. When I start to look at what I don’t have, I remember David’s confidence that his Shepherd would give him everything he needed. I repeat his words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” and ask God to help me wear the color of contentment.

Next step: Which color are you wearing today? Envy green? Or the color of contentment? Post the words of Psalm 23:1 somewhere you will see them often today to remind yourself of the Shepherd’s care.

Divine Makeover001This post was adapted from my book for teens and young women:

Divine Makeover: God Makes You Beautiful.

Perhaps you have been looking for a resource for your youth group or a study to do with your daughter. Or maybe you need a confirmation or graduation gift for a lovely young woman.

Check out Divine Makeover at CPH and Amazon.



The secret for contentment

Your Top Five Posts of 2016


2016 was quite a year! For me, it was time chock-full of family visits, writing, and volunteer work. How about you?

During January I often take time to evaluate the year before. So today I took a few minutes to check out what interested you–my readers–most in 2016. Here are your favorite five posts! Reread and be reinspired!

What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Luke 18-13Sometimes I struggle with prayer. How to pray. What to pray. When to find time to pray. And how on earth can I accomplish prayer without ceasing? This post talks about a short prayer that I use when I don’t know what to pray. Check out this prayer that has been used for centuries.

Breathe in your Savior’s name and breathe out a desperate prayer for grace. Click To Tweet
Five Creative Ways to Encourage Someone


Hebrews 10:24 says, Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out (The Message). I want to be an encourager, but I sometimes struggle with how to be supportive. This post gives a few ideas.

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out. (Hebrews 10:24 MSG) Click To Tweet
7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest


Soul rest. That’s what we all need. The kind of rest that calms our hearts. The kind of respite that obliterates restlessness in our spirits.The kind of stillness that cancels out the craziness of this world like noise-cancelling headphones wipe out any pandemonium around us.

This post introduces the concept of soul rest and the habits that can lead us into that rest by drawing us into the presence of the Lord.

Soul rest is the rest that calms our hearts. It is the rest that draws us into the presence of the Lord. Click To Tweet
When You’re Feeling Unsettled, Dissatisfied

unsettled soul

When I’m feeling dissatisfied with my life or when I’m feeling unsettled, it is often because I have forgotten one crucial thing. Find out what that is in this post. When we’re facing loss and discouragement, we can realize that God has already given us what we need.

Even when I'm feeling unsettled and dissatisfied, Jesus knows what I need most. Click To Tweet
How to Truly Love Yourself

1 John 4-16

This post was inspired by a devotion I read by a tenth-century monk on the four degrees of love. Click to read about these four degrees of love and how the fourth degree allows us to love ourselves so that we can love others well.

We don’t love ourselves because we deserve love. We love ourselves because we see ourselves through God’s eyes. Click To Tweet

Next step: What do you most need today? Help with prayer, encouragement, soul rest, dissatisfaction, or loving yourself? Read the corresponding article and find hope in God’s Word.


The Mystery of Psalm 23


During the 40 days of Lent I am reading through the Psalms. Why don’t you join me? Click here to download the Lenten reading guide. 

When I was a little girl I loved hearing Psalm 23 read in church. It was easy to picture Jesus as a shepherd because in the sanctuary there was a huge stained glass window of Jesus holding a staff in one hand and a snow-white lamb in the other.

However, there was one thing about that psalm that always puzzled me. When the pastor read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” it sounded like the guy who wrote the psalm didn’t want Jesus to be his shepherd.

And that just didn’t make any sense.

Finally, one Sunday I asked my mother to explain that verse. She told me that the writer was trying to say that because Jesus was his shepherd he didn’t want anything else.

Well, that made a little more sense, but how could that be?

I mean, how could you not want chocolate ice-cream cones? Or Barbie dolls? Or sleepover parties?

Even now–all grown up–I want Jesus to be my Shepherd. But sometimes it’s hard not to want other things. Like family to be close. Like friends who don’t move away. Like health for my loved ones.

mysteryPsalm23But maybe having Jesus as my Shepherd, doesn’t necessarily mean automatic contentment here on earth.

Look at the way the NIV (1984) translates that verse:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1

This take on the verse assures me that Jesus my Shepherd will give me what I need. I won’t be in a state of want. I might not have everything I desire, but I will have everything I need.

The rest of Psalm 23 tells us everything that God provides:

  • food and water (v. 2)
  • rest (v. 2)
  • restoration (v.3)
  • guidance (v. 3)
  • protection (v. 4)
  • His presence (v. 4)
  • goodness and love (v. 6)
  • eternal life (v. 6)

What do you most need today? Where does it fit in the list above? Look up that verse now.

Maybe you no longer yearn for Barbie dolls or sleepovers. But life is hard and we often have unfulfilled longings.

Take all your desires to the Shepherd. Trust that He will carry you in His arms today and give you exactly what you need.


Background information for Psalm 23: Psalm 23 is in the first book of Psalms (which includes Psalms 1-41). The psalm is a psalm of trust. It was written by David who grew up tending sheep. He knew firsthand the duties and responsibilities of a shepherd. Read the psalm here.


Next step: Write down your greatest need (or desire). Look up the corresponding verse in Psalm 23. Write it on a card to carry with you today or on sticky note to post it where you can see it often. Picture yourself being carried like a lamb in the arms of Jesus.


Three Reasons to Avoid Shortcuts in Life

psalm 25-5

My husband and I were driving to Columbia, Missouri to visit our son and his wife. It was a beautiful sunny day and were were enjoying the six-hour drive until…

Traffic on the Interstate slowed and stopped. Instead of zipping along at 70 miles per hour, we were now crawling along at 7 miles per hour–or less!

I called my son to tell him we would probably be later than expected. He got on his computer and discovered that a huge accident had occurred. Yep–this was going to take awhile.

ShortcutBut then he also found an alternate route–a frontage road that ran along the highway. “You should be able to follow that until you are past the accident,” he said. So we exited the freeway at the next opportunity and were soon rushing past the parked cars on the Interstate.

We were feeling rather smug until traffic on the frontage road slowed and stopped. It seemed we were not the only cars to have the idea of the shortcut and now the skinny frontage road couldn’t handle all the traffic.

In fact, the pace was so slow on the shortcut that before we were able to pass the accident site, the damaged cars were towed away and traffic on the Interstate flowed ahead. Cars and trucks we had been stuck behind in the traffic jam now passed us up.

Taking the shortcut had actually cost us time.

Isn’t that often the case in life as well?

Sometimes life’s problems cause a traffic jam in the progress to my goals. God tells me to trust Him. He reminds me to wait–He has everything under control. But I get impatient and try to elbow my way past God’s plan. I rely on my own puny self-sufficiency instead of God’s almighty power.

As I have thought about this, I can see three reasons why I should avoid shortcuts in life:

  • Forcing my way ahead, may seem more productive, but may prevent me from learning valuable lessons. Taking the shortcut may seem faster (waiting always seems like a waste of time, right?), but it may also shortcut important life lessons only available during the waiting period. Psalm 25:5 says, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (emphasis added).
  • Impatience may lead me to disobedience and missing God’s blessing. In the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel instructed King Saul to wait seven days when Samuel would return to offer the sacrifice. But Saul didn’t wait (1 Samuel 13) and in so doing lost the Lord’s blessing on his dynasty.
  • Doing things in my my own way and my own timetable may rob me of an opportunity to watch God in a marvelous, miraculous way. Psalm 52:9 says, “I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly” (emphasis added).

I hate waiting. But if a shortcut leads me away from God’s purpose for my the life. the shortcut is worse than the waiting. If an alternative route takes me away from God’s peaceful presence it isn’t worth it.

I’m making an effort to avoid detours. To ignore shortcuts. If God asks me to wait, I will say yes. He promises to provide the best route possible. He assures me His path is best.

Next step: Think about where in your life you are waiting right now. What shortcuts are you tempted to take? Write a prayer asking God to help you avoid them and to stay on the path He desires for your life.


The One Thing Keeping You From The Life You Want

eyes of love

Once upon a time a rich young ruler comes to Jesus. This man had everything: money, power, youth. Maybe he was even not-too-bad looking.

But even though it seemed like he had everything anyone could want–he knew he was missing something.

He came to Jesus with a burning question

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

This young man knew that the things he had wouldn’t last forever. He needed eternal life.

Jesus gave the searching man a rather standard answer: Follow the commandments. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Honor your father and mother.

The young man thought: Good. I’ve got this. He told Jesus, “I’ve done all those things since I was a boy.”

But Jesus knew there was one thing that was holding the man back from the life he really wanted. There was one thing that was distracting him from his real life. So Jesus looked at the young man and said:

“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

The rich young ruler went away despondent. Because this was the one thing he could not do.

one thing2I totally get that young man. Not that I’m rich. Or powerful. Even youth has pretty much passed me by. But there have often been things in my life that have distracted me from my real life–the amazing, beautiful life that Jesus wants me to have. Sometimes Jesus has asked me to surrender things I held tightly–in order to wholeheartedly follow Him.

And often I have been exactly like that man that met Jesus. I have said no. I’ve hung onto whatever I thought it was I couldn’t live without. Music career. Pursuit of dream house. Wanting family close.

But when I’ve hung onto those dreams, those desires–I discovered that didn’t actually make me happier. They only pulled me away from Christ. I couldn’t follow Jesus closely because I was dragging around the weight of my own will, my own expectations.

Usually I come to my senses and realize that a life of following Jesus is better than any other path. I eventually release that one thing that is holding me back from the life I really want–the life God has planned for me.

What are holding onto? If Jesus spoke to you and said, “You lack one thing. Go and surrender _________” What would that one thing be?

If Jesus spoke to you and said, 'You lack one thing. Go and surrender __________' What would that one thing be? Click To Tweet

It’s always difficult to surrender things we hold dear. But there is one phrase in Mark’s account of the rich young ruler that makes it a bit easier.

Mark wrote “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21).

When I struggle to surrender whatever God is asking me to let go, I remember Jesus’ love. I picture Him–looking at me with eyes of love–holding out His hands to take whatever burdens He has asked me to relinquish.

Jesus doesn’t ask me to release my desires or my possessions because He wants to make me miserable. He asks me to release them because, in His love, He knows the one thing that is keeping me from the life I really want.

Next step: If Jesus spoke to you and said, “You lack one thing. Go and surrender _________” What would that one thing be? Spend a few minutes basking in Jesus’ love for you. Then write a prayer surrendering that one thing–the one thing that is keeping you from the life you really want.

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