Earlier this summer, my favorite race car driver, Michael Waltrip, came to Denver. He was raising money for the folks who lost their homes and possessions in the devastating wildfires we’ve had this year.
Mickey (as he is known by his family, friends and fans) signed autographs at the NAPA distribution center and then delivered a check to the disaster relief fund at the Colorado National Speedway. But it gets even better…he raced that night in his famous NAPA #55 Toyota.
And here’s the crazy part. This speedway is two miles from my house. I hear the cars race on Saturday evenings during the summer. That particular night they were really loud. I remember making that comment.
So how did I miss this? I don’t get a newspaper. I watch the news irregularly. I didn’t follow MWR tweets the week before. And I missed it.
I am not the only one who has missed out on something wonderful.
I’m sure there were plenty of people who missed what Jesus had to say. They sat at His feet hearing His words, but they never really sunk in. They thought His words were entertaining, but that was as far as the words went.
There is one such account we find in Scripture. You’ll know him as the Rich Young Man or the Rich Young Ruler. Three of the Gospels record his story. And the ending is the same in each (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; and Luke 18:18-30).
This wealthy young man had heard Jesus’ message. Perhaps several times. It had made an impact on him and he desired to find out how to guarantee his spiritual salvation. His exact question was, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 – NIV)
Jesus quoted some of the commands given by Moses in the Old Testament. The ones about murder, adultery, lying, and honoring parents. This young man was pleased to declare that he had kept them all since he was a young boy. Perhaps he thought he had this. Perhaps he thought he was going to be able to get by with these obediences of God’s commands.
But then, Jesus spoke again, with love in his heart for this young person standing before Him.
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 – NIV)
Oh, how disappointed this poor lad was. Scripture says his “face fell.” He had heard Jesus’ teachings, but had missed the real message. He hadn’t realized the importance of putting God first in his life.
Upon hearing these words, he knew that he could not do as Jesus requested. Scripture says he had “great wealth.” He wasn’t willing to give it all away for eternal life. And this man walked away from Jesus.
Jesus continued with His teaching after this encounter. Teaching about the rich and heaven. And in the midst of this teaching, Jesus delivered two one-liners that we all know.
“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 – NIV)
And, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:31 – NIV)
What can we take away from this account?
I believe we can understand the importance of putting God before everything else. Anything that we love more than God will be in the way of our relationship and that relationship will be damaged.
I also believe that Jesus is telling us here that even if there is something between us and God, with God’s help, we will be able to put it behind us. With God, we are capable of placing God first in our lives.
And I believe Jesus is sharing the timely message that a servant heart is what God is looking for. The attitude of our hearts make us usable vessels. When we have a willing, servant heart, God can do mighty things through us.
And lastly, I believe we can understand the importance of getting the whole message. God’s entire message. Don’t pick and choose the parts you want to learn, know and obey. It is a whole package deal. You take it all or leave it all. There can be nothing in between.
I pray that you haven’t missed it. Missed the important message that Jesus shared with this young man. It is a life-changing message. It is a mind-altering message. It is a forever message. If you have missed it, what is holding you back from accepting God’s message? What is standing between you and eternal life? Is it worth it?
If you’ve only captured a part of God’s message, I pray that you’ll take the time to continue studying God’s Word to hear the rest of the message.
And if you haven’t missed it, praise God for His glorious gift of grace and salvation. Praise Him for what He has done in your life. Thank Him for the changes He has made. Don’t take His gift for granted. Share His message with those around you. Let them know exactly what it has meant in your life.
This missed opportunity to meet Michael Waltrip was actually the second time I’ve missed him. I just shake my head and wonder if it will ever happen. I don’t know.
What I do know, however, is that I haven’t missed God’s message. I understand it fully. I have accepted it fully. I try (very hard) to live it fully. I find complete satisfaction in knowing that my future is secure in God my Savior. I pray that you have that same satisfaction.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,