Decline. This was yesterday’s word. It’s been an excellent word to ponder through the filter of scripture and my personal experiences of life on planet earth.

The very first memory that popped to the top of my brain’s search engine was a time in college when I regretfully declined an invitation to go and hear about Jesus. I watched Marilyn’s life become transformed because she met Jesus in our freshmen year. Her face literally radiated His joy and glory (thus eyes on Jesus and Shine) but still I declined her invitation. It seems ridiculous to me now, but Marilyn was so changed before my very eyes that I froze with fear.

When I think about Marilyn and her jubilant efforts to convince me to “Come follow Him” I am reminded of a young man who face to face heard Jesus’ offer and sadly declined.

In the church we often call him the rich young ruler. He’s often portrayed as haughty, greedy or even foolish because he didn’t drop his wealthy established life to follow Jesus. And what do I know? Maybe he was all of those like many of us.

“You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭20‬-‭21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

But I think he was afraid. And I think he needed to walk away to ponder for awhile the cost and consequences of accepting the way of Jesus.
Some of us are knitted together that way.

We may not say yes right away, but we haven’t said no either. Some of us tend to decline the current invitation while we ponder what it would look like to accept the next one. We might feel that we need a rain check.

The amazing aspect of both of these real life stories is that Jesus wasn’t offended that either one of us (the young man or myself) declined the invitation to follow Him.
People judge. But Jesus is patient.
People give up. Jesus pursues.
People label, but Jesus knows us.

“When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭23‬-‭24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He knows of what we’re afraid. He knows which ones of us are thinkers, ponderers, and He is totally fine with those of us who stop to count the cost.

I declined Marilyn’s joy-filled invitation to run after Jesus because I was afraid to get caught up in a cult. I needed more information. For Marilyn I was exceedingly happy because obviously Jesus had radically turned her life around. I got to witness the before and after.

I still declined, but I didn’t stop seeking. Today (42 years later) I’m still marked by the radiance of Marilyn’s face. She, to me, is the personification of Psalm 34:5. She put her gaze on Jesus and He removed all the shame from her past. She walked our Florida State campus with a glow that I wanted to find for myself.

And honestly the fact that she came back for me marked me. She didn’t try to convince all the girls on our dorm floor. She offered her invitation to all of them, but I was the one she tried several times to convince. She saw the longing in my eyes.

Somehow I believe the story wasn’t over for the young man. Even though we might not recognize him in the rest of the New Testament I believe his no probably wasn’t his final answer. If I was so marked by the radiance of Jesus in my friend’s life, I believe the young man was also marked and changed by his encounter with Jesus, the Living Son of God.

“Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18‬:‭26‬-‭27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I look forward to meeting up with Marilyn in eternity and I think possibly the young man might be there as well to join our conversation. It’s good for us to remember that someone who declines our invitation today might receive another invitation in the future.

Let’s not be so quick to judge or write people off. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,


5 thoughts on “Decline

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s