Reflection:: As a new year approaches, I always like to take time to reflect on the last year – the journey God has me on, what He’s taught me, where I failed, what I hope to do differently in the future. I’ve been living in L.A. for almost two years now. Man, where did that time go? The two years that I’ve lived in L.A. could not have looked more different. The first year featured independent, self-sufficient, more successful than expected, Katie. The second year, the starring role in the story of my life was played by needy, helpless, dependent, struggling, Katie.
Those two Katie’s are really just what one might see on the outside, how I might have appeared to the world. On the inside, I think I was struggling in different ways both years. But, this is not a call for pity. I think struggle is a good thing. I’m so incredibly thankful for the last two years. I have learned so much. God has grown in me a love for Him, His people, His purpose, and a confidence – not in myself, but in Him. None of that would have happened without the struggle.
I’m not saying I’ve turned a completely new leaf like, “Hey oh, I’ve got life figured out now!” No way. It took a lot of losing to get to this point, so I can only imagine what the Lord has in front of me to lovingly teach me even more about how to live an abundant life. And an abundant life it is. It is, after all, God’s kindness that leads to repentance, to surrender and acceptance of who we truly are and how much we really, no holds barred, no pride saved, need Him because He, no holds barred, no pride saved, loved us – even to the point of death on a cross.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 2012…
I lost my dream of making it.
I lost control of my life.
I lost my comfort.
I lost some friends.
I lost “it” – as it seemed like I exchanged a promising career for a foolish cause.
However, since moving to L.A….
I gained a greater love for an entire city than I could have ever imagined.
I gained a life with purpose.
I gained a new perspective as I saw the generosity of the body of Christ.
I gained family.
I got “it” – a glimpse of the glory of God and what it means to truly live.
The Word – At church, we recently talked about The Rich Young Ruler… and something stuck out to me that I’ve never seen before… and it changes everything. Here’s the story:
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” -Mark 10
Did you see it? Check out verse 21.
Jesus looked at him… and loved him.
I always saw this passage as Jesus’ throw down moment. Like, “Boom! You think you’ve done it all but it is sooo not about works, buddy! Seriously!? And even if it was, you think you can do enough to cover your sin and be good enough to enter the Kingdom of God!? Boy, you got it wrong. Humble yo self. For real.”
But that’s not Jesus’ attitude at all. Yes, He gets to the heart of the issue, the idol in the man’s heart – but He doesn’t shoot straight to wound the man, but because He loved him so much… and wanted him to live life abundantly, with an open hand, with true riches. Not that which moth can destroy and robbers can steal. The Rich Young Ruler had meant well, but missed it. My whole life, I’ve meant well – but man, I still missed it most of the time, I still miss it sometimes.
To remember: God loves us so much. He doesn’t want to take our stuff and our happiness. He doesn’t need our possessions. He speaks and the universe exudes a greater glory than a Monet, than anything that has ever existed, from which all of our creation is inspired.
Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35) He didn’t say it to take things from us, but to give. To give us Himself, and all we need in the body of Christ. That means losing material possessions at times, and in my experience it means giving up my pride – but it also means gaining a knowledge of Christ and a family of believers more valuable than any amount of money.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliot