This past weekend I was invited to attend a 72 hour retreat called, "The Great Banquet". Wow!! A weekend surrounded by strangers who became dear friends and a community of believers who loved each of us so extravagantly.
One of the sessions we discussed the story of Jesus and the rich young man found in Mark 10:17-27. It was a familiar story I had heard many times. Yet this time, I saw 7 words tucked into verse 21 that literally leaped off of the page and pierced my partially hardened heart.
"Jesus looked at him and loved him."
The young man in humility knelt before Jesus and at the same time full of self righteousness he proclaimed he had kept all of the commandments since he was a boy. A man wanting to be sure that heaven would be his home, but whose heart was divided and steadfastly anchored in the materialism of world.
Before saying one single word, Jesus looked at him..., and loved him. As I stared at those words in my Bible, I knew that Jesus was looking at me too. He knew that I had allowed some of my priorities to get out of balance. He knew that I needed to say, "I forgive you" to someone dear to me. He knew I needed to have a long conversation with Him and to allow him point out a few things I had been avoiding. But at that very moment, Jesus was looking at ME..., and He loved me.
Just like Jesus loved the rich young man too much to let him stay in that condition, He gently began to get to the heart of the matter with me as well. Through many tears and much time alone with God, He began shining the light of His grace, love and forgiveness on all of the neglected, dark places. I can tell you for sure, to feel the deep, deep love of Jesus is far greater than anything else we can experience here on earth.
Thank You Father for drenching me in your abundant, grace filled love once again. My heart is over-flowing with passion once again.