Summary: God is always calling us onward.
Have you ever been camping? I do not mean camping in a cabin or camper. I mean camping in the great outdoors, bundled up in a sleeping bag, with nothing but a tent between you and the wild creatures that roam the woods.
I have only been once been once and I hated it. Knowing what you know about me in just two days, that probably does not surprise you. I am not much of an outdoorsman.
It was back in my college years. A group of friends decided to spend a few days of our Spring Break camping in the Silver River Park in the central part of Florida. We gathered supplies and rented equipment – sleeping bags, cooking utensils, insect repellant, and (most importantly) tents, all packed away securely in our backpacks.
We spent a day hiking and then found a place to set up camp for the evening. Have you ever tried to put together a tent? I am told that tent technology has improved immensely over the last 24 years. Now campers enjoy popup tents that are very easy to assemble.
I did not one those “easy to assemble” tents on my camping trips. My tent was once of those old complicated collection of rope, tarps, rods, and stakes to be securely planted in the ground.
Several of my friends were experienced campers. In no time at all, they had their area staked out, a campfire burning, and fishing poles out – ready to catch their dinner. Did they stop to help me? No way! The site of me reading the manual on how to set up my tent was too enjoyable a scene.
After more than an hour – I decided that I would have to improvise. I set up between two trees. I attached the two ends of once piece of rope two the two trees. Then I threw the tarp (the tent material – whatever its called) over that rope. Then I took the stakes and hammered them into the group at the four corners of the tent, attaching the corners to those stakes with the remaining pieces of rope.
As it turns out, I had not tied off either end of rope very securely to the trees, and they began to sag. Then a brief thunderstorm hit late that evening and the tent came crashing down. I must have tied that thing off a half dozen times through the night, to no avail.
Finally, the rain stopped and my tent just sort of just hung there from the trees, a pitiful site if there ever was one. The only thing that stayed in place was the stakes. They were deeply embedded in the ground and were not going anywhere.
Have you ever been camping? Me? I have only been once been once and I hated it. I doubt I will ever it again.
In hindsight the only thing I know I did right was lay down my stakes. That is pretty much a parable for the rest of my life. When I stake out a section of my life, it can become solidly (almost stubbornly) established.
I love that old hymn by Homer Morris that says,
I shall not be, I shall not be moved
I shall not be, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved
That is me. I spot a piece of land, mark out my claim, and lay down my stakes. I hold on to that spot with fierce tenacity. “I shall not be moved!”
Is this a virtue? In some respects, I suppose it is. We need to be deeply rooted in the scripture. We need to be firmly established in prayer. I would submit to you that there are times when it is right to sing, “I shall not be moved.”
That said, I think there are many more times when living by the theme “I shall not be moved” can become a great detriment to the advancement of God’s kingdom. We see an example of how this looks in the story that we read moments ago from Mark’s Gospel.
In the story, a man comes to Jesus seeking counsel. We do not know much about the man except that he was wealthy. Over the centuries, he has been called “the rich young ruler.” That’s at least one-third accurate. The only thing the text says was that the man “had great wealth.” His age and whether he was a person of power are not mentioned in the text. We like the idea that he was a “rich young ruler” because that phrase rolls off the tongue much easier than “unknown old rich guy.” The bottom line is that we simply do not know much about his age and influence in his society.