34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:34-37 NLT)
Is anything worth more than your soul? A troubling question for those whose pursuit is toward things that the heart may find enticing, but which are not all that wise for us to be pursuing. As many of us believe, "ambition" is central to "change". We somehow believe if we have a good enough "drive" toward something, we will certainly realize it. The opposite may be quite true, for ambition may launch us along the journey, but it seldom keeps us going long enough to finish the mission. Ambition might get us to the river, but it isn't going to help us experience the depth and breadth and subtle nuances of the river's change all around us. The heart has to be aligned with the spirit, otherwise we miss the "subtle nuances" of the journey. In the end, the journey will be totally "anti-climactic".
We find ourselves "hanging onto" things we never should have pursued in the first place. It isn't that we don't want to let them go, it is that somehow we have become very familiar with the "comfort" even the misery of those experiences have created! Our soul isn't content, but we aren't sure what to do about it - there is some "internal" drive left, but we aren't sure where it is taking us. I had the mistaken belief being in "management" was a glorious thing until I was placed in management! All of a sudden, the thing my soul desired the most became the thing my soul found to be such a huge and sometimes unwelcome burden to carry! There are times when we find our pursuits took us into hardships we didn't want to endure.
I think Jesus is reminding us of the importance of seeing our desires in the light of eternity. Oftentimes the desires of our soul (man's internal drive, so to speak) take us to places we "think" are going to help us realize some sort of fulfillment or purpose in life. We might discover some things along the way, but in the end, we find there isn't much difference in this journey than the last we put our hope in. This is why he reminds us of the importance of our spirit being aligned with his - not our souls. He takes care of our souls as he enters our spirits. In the end, he brings us to places we appreciate and find deeper purpose by experiencing these moments. Rather than "drive harder" in order to realize some desire of our soul, perhaps we need to "rest more" in the grace-connection we make at the spirit level with Christ! Just sayin!