My husband made a face mask for me, and he wanted me to wear it for my sake and for others’ protection. Before I even put it on, I hated it. First of all, it symbolically represented our isolation. With a face mask, I couldn’t even smile at people from six feet away. Smiling is the only form of communication left for an extrovert in a quarantine.
Secondly, it touched me. No one in my family likes clingy clothing. This dislike is summed up in the phrase, “It’s touching me.” This face mask created from a bandanna and rubber bands was essentially a wad of material adhered to my face.
Third, it fogged up my glasses.
Fourth, the experts couldn’t even seem to agree on whether face masks help or not. Why did I have to wear something I hated, if it might not even do any good?
Fifth, did I mention it was touching me? Few things cause a more claustrophobic feeling than having a mass of fabric bound over your nose and mouth.
But my husband, who loves me and knows my kidney disease puts me at a higher risk with Coronavirus, wanted me to wear it. So, I did. I wore the stupid thing while I ran errands. All the while, I grumbled inside. I mentally whined and complained the entire outing. Toward the end, the Holy Spirit warned me there was a lesson in the experience.
A couple of days ago my Bible reading included the story of the rich young ruler from Luke 18. In the story, a young man comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answers, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”
The kid thinks he’s golden. He’s done all of these things the majority of his life, and he tells Jesus just that. Jesus, who knows all men’s hearts, adds one more caveat, “Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Suddenly, the kid isn’t so golden. As it says in verse 23, “But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.”
“There’s your face mask lesson,” the Holy Spirit revealed to me as I read. The rich young ruler had done all of the right things. I’m sure he could have treated the law like a to-do list and happily checked off all of his righteous actions. But, his heart wasn’t in it. I’m sure my husband was happy I wore the mask, but he would have preferred I was as concerned about my health and other people’s health as he was.
The rich young ruler was sad because his heart wasn’t fully dedicated to the Lord. He’d done all the right things, but didn’t truly love God. Jesus confirmed the Old Testament law when he said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 and Deut 6:5) The rich young ruler’s heart was dedicated to something other than the Lord. His actions looked like he loved God, but his heart was not fully devoted.
In Matthew 15:8, Jesus scolds the religious leaders of the day for the same behavior. They’d followed the tenants of the law, but did not truly know God at all. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Thankfully, wearing a face mask grudgingly still bears positive results. However, the rich young ruler’s divided heart had eternal consequences. He had to choose between following Christ and possessions.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened next with the young man. I like to believe he turned his heart like I did. I called my nephrologist (that’s the SAT word for kidney doctor), expecting her to back my play. I explained my kidney function numbers were good, and that I was only in my late forties. Surely, the recommendations didn’t apply to me.
“You can go out for essentials,” she said, “if you wear a mask.”
That’s when I chose to surrender. I gave up my last vestige of stubbornness and agreed wholeheartedly to wear the mask. I don’t do it just to humor my husband; I do it because it is best for me.
I hope the rich young ruler did the same. I hope he realized his earthly possessions didn’t matter. I hope he surrendered his whole heart and followed Jesus.
What about you? Does Jesus have your whole heart or is it divided? What do you need to surrender today?
Dear Lord, please show me what is taking your place in my heart. Help me to lay it aside, so that my whole heart can be yours. Amen.
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