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?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 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.”
Becoming ‘good’ at anything – a sport, a skill, an action – takes practice. 10,000 hours, they say. That’s a lot of time to spend typing to get better at one thing, about 5 years at 6 hours per day. It would have to be something you REALLY enjoyed doing. And there will be many sacrifices along the way. Imagine, as a young person, that you set your heart on becoming a professional footballer – someone, a scout or a teacher, maybe, has seen some talent in you and wants to encourage you… but warns that there will be sacrifices – no nights out with your mates, eating exactly the right things, not doing anything that might risk injury…just to play for your club, let alone your country.
And the journey starts when you’re about 9 years old when you get scouted and sign for a club.
How many young people dedicate a vast proportion of their youth and yet don’t make it, despite all the effort, all the sacrifices? The number must be in the thousands. Maybe the hundreds of thousands. The young man in Mark’s Gospel couldn’t make the necessary sacrifices to achieve his goal. What have we given up on because we didn’t make the cut?
Gracious God, sometimes we fall by the wayside though no fault of our own, and sometimes it’s entirely our fault. We pray for those whose dreams have been dashed, whose hopes have been shattered. Be with them, and us, as the pieces are picked up, reassembled, and new paths chosen. Amen.
Leo Roberts is the Children and Young People’s Officer for the North Western Synod