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  • Sarah Raad

Alternatives

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.” (Mark 10:21).

Christ And The Rich Young Ruler (Hoffman)

The American poet, Robert Frost wrote a beautiful little poem called “The Road Not Taken” in 1916. In this poem, Frost considers the idea of alternatives, and how a choice once made has implications that last forever.


The poem ends beautifully with the line… “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—. I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”


And I have been reflecting on this poem and this short line of poetry very much over the last few days, because it reminds me to consider alternatives. You see, an alternative is simply a CHOICE – a decision to move in one direction or another. And we are presented with many occasions in the Gospels of people who made choices – both good and not so good.


And as I consider alternatives, I consider the choice of the rich young man, who in finding Christ CHOOSE the alternative of NOT following Him because it would mean giving up his riches and possessions…


“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?’ … 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.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10:17-22).

And I have been considering the alternatives presented in the story – the choices of both the man and His God…

Firstly, the young man made a choice to seek Christ out. And this means something. It means he had to choose between one alternative and another. He had to decide not to go to work that day, or to visit his girlfriend, or to buy groceries for his mother. He had to decide to put God first. And that is not always a convenient choice.


You see, to put God first, the young man had to set out with the intention of approaching God. To do this, the man probably had to plan his approach. After all Christ was followed by multitudes. Perhaps the young man had to run up ahead and wait hours and hours for Christ to walk by. Perhaps he had to push his way through the crowds so that he could see Christ face to face. Perhaps he had to shout out in a loud voice to be heard over the noise of the multitude. Perhaps he went for some time without food or water because he did not wish to leave his spot so that he would not miss out on the opportunity to see Christ..


We will never really know the answer to such questions as these until perhaps we see this soul in eternity. But what we so know is that the young man made a deliberate CHOICE to talk to Christ. And he did not say just one little word – he had a whole conversation with Him. He asked God what was needed to get to heaven, and then asked again for what more was needed.


And this is where the story gets interesting, because “Jesus looked at him and loved him”. And this is terrible terribly important. Because Christ – even knowing the alternative the man would choose – still LOVED that man… He loved him right there on the side of the road knowing that the man would choose wrong and that he would go “away sad, because he had great wealth”.


And when I reflect on this story in the Gospel, I can see my Beloved’s love for me and it makes me pray for the Grace to try harder and to do more! Because “Jesus looks at me and loves me” even despite all the silly short-sighted alternatives that I choose!


And how could one such as I ever thank One such as He for the JOY of that?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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