Another incident that happened while I was on the Silent retreat took place on Saturday morning before the peace settled in. I was still disturbed about giving this young man life in prison even though the judge assured us we had made the right decision. It was still a tough decision.
While reflecting God reminded me of the rich young ruler found in Mark 10:17-27. “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, and do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property”.
I wasn’t sure how this fit in with my case. This young man certainly did not compare to the rich young ruler found in scripture. The rich young ruler had not done some of the things the young man had done who was standing trial. My young man was not as innocent as this young ruler; nor was he rich. Although, I do believe he came from a home where money was not a big issue. So what are you getting at God?
Once God explained it the answer seemed simple. The rich young ruler belonged to this world. He had worldly possessions and was not ready to give up these possessions. I knew from what I had heard this young man had been raised in church. He knew God and I believe he knew right from wrong. I also believe at some point he chose to turn away from God just like this rich young ruler. God was telling me this young man at some point turned his back on God and decided to follow the ways of the world and the ways that were far more appealing to him. He did not choose to follow God, but chose to fall away. I told God He was right as usual, but He did not condemn this man to life in prison like I did. God very definitely told me neither had I. I did not give this man life in prison He did it to himself by making the choices he chose. We don’t know what happened to the rich young ruler, he might never have came to Christ or maybe later on he had second thoughts and did come to Christ. Christ I am sure was heartbroken when this rich young ruler chose his riches rather than following Him, but that was the choice He made not Christ. I am sure at some point this young man who had been raised in church had a decision to make; walk with Christ or walk away. He chose to walk away. I am sure Christ’s heart was broken again.
We all have had to make that decision at some point in our lives. We have had to decide whether we would live for Christ or live the way we choose. We have to choose if what we have in our lives is worth giving up and following Christ or are we too attached to money, possessions, and a certain way of life or ____ (you fill in the blank).
Just like this rich young ruler I may never know what happens to this troubled young man. What I can do though is pray for him. I know there are prison ministries and a prison ministry called Kairos. I can pray one of these ministries reaches out and touches him. I pray that someday he will be given another chance to meet God and accept His invitation to become part of the family of God. I can and will continue to pray for him.
In the meantime I have to be careful not to let possessions, or money or a certain lifestyle come between me and God. I have to be careful about not choosing this world and all it has to offer over God. We all have two choices to make; one we can choose to live eternally with God and have all that offers or two we can choose to be separated from God for the rest of our lives. God does not make that decision. We make it when we choose to walk away from God. God would much rather we all live eternally with Him, but He knows this world can and often times has a stronger hold on us and we just can’t seem to let go.
This young man blamed drugs for his demise. His family blamed the drugs for his demise. I will admit drugs and alcohol is often times the culprit behind one’s destructive behavior, but who chooses to take those drugs, more often than not they are not forced on someone. This young man had opportunities while he was in Drug Rehab to overcome the drugs, but once again he chose the wrong choice.
Just like the rich young ruler and this young man the choices we make are ones we will have to live with. Joshua 24:15, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Who will you serve God or the ruler of this world? Choices; the rich young ruler had a choice to make and so did this young man. I hope if you are in the midst of making a decision you will make the choice to live with God eternally and not choose to walk away.
Let’s join together as we make the choice to walk alongside of God and with each other.
Dear God: The rich young ruler made his choice and so did this young man. You are right I did not choose his path, but he chose it for himself. My heartbreaks just like yours did when the young man walked away, but I must not feel guilty. That is not what you want for me. Instead you have called me to pray for his young man. I am placing this man into your hands and asking for you to bring someone into his life that will help him turn his life around and accept your love, grace and mercy. Help me to make the right choices as I choose whom this day I will follow. Thank you for the choice I made so long ago to follow you. Amen.