Listened to a podcast awhile back where Ruth Graham was interviewed about a book she’s recently written. The title of the book is “Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself.” Forgiving her father . . . you know who that is, right? Billy Graham. The Billy Graham. Certainly the greatest evangelist of my time, perhaps, some might argue, of all time. So what’s he got to be forgiven for?
From the interview it doesn’t sound like it’s one of those tell-all, reveal dirty secrets book. In fact, she says, she idolized her father. But sounds like it’s an honest processing of what it was like to grow up in a home where dad was gone . . . a lot! And sounds like she’s not blaming her dad for “her stuff” and her sin, she owns it, but part of that “stuff” was dealing with feelings of abandonment from her father. Even as her father pursued God’s call on his life to preach the gospel around the world. Hmm . . .
Came to mind as I was reading in Luke this morning.
And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed You.” And [Jesus] said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Luke 18:28-30 ESV)
Honestly, this has always been a tough passage to noodle on.
It comes right after Jesus’ discussion with the rich young ruler who wanted to know what he needed to do to “inherit eternal life” (18:18)). Figured he was pretty good at keeping the law but Jesus said, “One thing you still lack.” So Jesus tells him to sell all he has, distribute it to the poor, and then he would have “treasure in heaven” and be unencumbered to follow Jesus (18:21). And the young man bows his head and walks away. Too costly. Too great a price to pay. “How difficult,” Jesus says, “it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” (18:24). Then, Peter said, “See we have left our homes and followed You.”
Hover over that for a bit. Doesn’t that seem like a place too far to go for our modern senses? Not just cashing in your bank account to follow Jesus but also leaving our home. Leaving wife, siblings, parents, and even children!
Our kids? Really? Could that possibly be the cost of following Jesus? Apparently. Doesn’t it strike you, at first, as going too far? But is it? Apparently not. For Jesus says, it will be worth it, “in this time, and in the age to come.”
Hard stuff for me to camp on. Would prefer to quickly read it, check it off my reading plan, and move on. Not this morning for some reason.
Does it make you feel like the rich young ruler? Sad, because it feels like it’s too great a price to pay? Ready to walk away? To settle for a second-best holiness? One that’s within my grasp? One that sets a bar I think I’m able to jump? Or, by His enabling, could I really surrender all. Or at least, being willing to surrender all for the sake of the kingdom?
Am I willing to entertain that to follow Jesus might actually involve not just something as easy as letting go of my material wealth, but also my relational wealth? Not that I’m equating the stewardship of money with the responsibility of caring for one’s family. But would I be willing to trust Jesus with my home if following Him kept me from being there a lot?
Cue introspection. Expel a heavy sigh. Search my heart, O God.
No tidy bow wrapping this thought up. Just something to chew on.
Requires His grace. Could only make sense for His glory.