Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Max and the Adventure of Losing Everything

I've been thinking about a story. A Bible story, actually, and a very short, relatively boring one at that. It's just a few lines about a wealthy, important man who came to the Teacher Jesus and said he wanted to join his posse. Jesus said, "Sure. But first go sell all your stuff and give the proceeds to the needy."
The man was taken aback, and left sad and confused because, hello, he really liked all his stuff. He'd worked hard for it. Took good care of it. And its not like he didn't give anything at all to the poor, but all of it?
That's where the glimpse into this life ends, but I don't think its the end of the story.  I think Max (that's what we're calling him now) went home to his beautiful house and looked around at his cool Maserati, his fine art collection, and his ginormous-screen TV and shook his head. No, he didn't have to give it up, he was generous already. In fact, he was kind of miffed. The gall of that guy to tell him to sell everything. Sure, easy to say when you're a nomad with almost nothing.
No, he popped a beer, invited his friends over, and cheered the home soccer team against the Galilean Olive Crushers.
But the next day, when he woke, he had that heavy sense that lands somewhere between loss and dread, that he'd missed out on something vital. An opportunity more incredible and precious than traveling the world, or eating at the finest restaurants, or being named among the hot 30 under 30 in Time magazine.
And as the days passed the ache grew instead of fading. Every time Matt Lauer mentioned anther slew of miracles by Jesus tears burned the backs of Max's eyes. And though he did all the same things he used to, grilling out with the guys, bidding on new sculptures, and vegging out over gourmet food in front of his massive TV, none of it felt as exciting as it once had. None of it was enough. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy it any more, all those leisures were just as fun. But he'd found something more precious, more thrilling, in the gentle, warm gaze of a man not much older than him who seemed to care about him even before he knew Max's importance, and then turned and cared about a beggar just as much.
It didn't happen all at once, no. At first he just gave away some things. The old paintings stored in the attic, last season's robes, leftovers from the restaurant to a homeless man on the way out.
And even those things felt....revitalizing. Max tasted a freedom-tinted joy that was entirely new. He felt like a boy again. Light, happy, and connected to a world he hadn't intentionally drawn away from.
After that it was the motorcycle, then his second car, and then one day, when Matt Lauer started talking about Jesus' latest dust up with the religious people, it struck all at once.
Max called Christie's Auction house, and floored the poor receptionist when he said he wanted to sell....everything.  Even after she finally quit hanging up on him for crank-calling and put him through, it took a while to get the appraiser to agree to come out and look at an entire mansion of stuff, and even moreso when he told her he wouldn't be there to collect the check. No, he didn't want to wait that long, so he instead gave her a list of orphanages, widows' aid programs, and the homeless guy who sat outside his favorite restaurant, and told her to divide the proceeds accordingly.
And without a single glance back or a twinge of doubt, Max walked away, thumbed a ride, and joined the mass of people following Jesus. And if he were going to have any second thoughts which, less face it, was highly likely, they vanished when he saw the joy and welcome and pride in the face of this Teacher whose very words burned in his chest and ignited life.