The Consummate Cost of Clarity

A man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions (Mark 10.17b, 21-22; my paraphrase)

A rich man came to Jesus seeking the answer to his life’s question; that sure counsel pointing him in the unmistakably right direction toward achieving his ultimate goal. In his case, gaining eternal life; the riches of heaven. Jesus, loving him, granted his request. Sadly, for him, it required his relinquishing his material wealth, which he could not and would not do.

In this life, the blessing of clarity about how to fulfill our destiny – our raison d’être, the point and purpose of our existence – is not always granted. Yet when occurring, as I reflect on my own life and the lives of others who have shared their experiences with me, there is an inherent summons that we give up something (at times, someone) significant to us. Perhaps the matter doesn’t involve so graphically an either-or decision as Jesus posed to the rich man. Nevertheless, the cost of clarity always involves a choice.

Thus, a (any!) question seeking direction prompts another: When circumstances favor the realization of our destiny, will we pay (or refuse to pay) the price of giving up something (and, to the greatest degree, everything) else?

© 2021 PRA

Illustration: Christ and the Rich Young Ruler (1889), Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911)

#eternallife #aquestionofvalues #claimingourdestiny #followingourdestiny

2 thoughts on “The Consummate Cost of Clarity

  1. Paul,

    I’ve been thinking about these questions all day! I believe I’m taking all of the steps right now to becoming who I am supposed to be, and what I’m supposed to be doing. Over these last 5 years I have often wondered why Tim died so suddenly, am I supposed to find my reason for being and then fulfilling it alone?? Was Tim the who / what I was supposed to give up? That’s what I’ve been pondering today.



  2. No, my dear Loretta, I do not believe that you were to give Tim up. For his illness and death were beyond control. Both his and yours.

    In the case of the rich man, he, in Jesus’ response to his question about eternal life, was given a choice, about which he was free to discern, and then to decide. One way to read and interpret the text/story is that he was not able to choose anything else for the sake of his material possessions. Another way to view the story is that he had made his decision and chose to hold onto his earthly wealth (which Jesus, discerning the man’s sincerity, yet recognizing his unmistakable tie to the things of this world, couched in the form of his response).

    Thus, a question I ask myself: Where, Paul, are you, in the exercise of your free will, being called to choose between Jesus’ kingdom-call and something (or someone) else?



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