Recently I had a conversation with a friend who described the past couple of years of his life as being pulled through the eye of a needle. He went on to say that when he got through the “needle”, he had less but yet he had so much more . . . Less of the things he didn’t need, and more of what his soul craved.
I believe that those who follow Jesus must all pass through the eye of God’s needle. Dietrich Bonheoffer called it “The Cost of Discipleship”. Even though grace is free, it will still cost us our lives in surrender to receive it. To the Westerners who have a greater sense of “Personal Space” than the rest of the world, this poses a great challenge. We resist confinement in any form because of what we call “Personal Space”. The image of being squeezed through a needle is horrifying to the space-loving Western mind.
Personal space has been defined as “the invisible boundaries around an individual body separating one from others”. Violating this space can upset people and create insecurity.
However when it comes to the Kingdom, there is no invisible radius drawn around our lives that is untouchable. All is fair game for God to do with as He will. Like Job, the only thing God will not allow satan to touch is our soul; the rest is negotiable. Jacob lost his perfect mobility, David lost two sons, Jeremiah the people’s favor . . . Even the son of God passed through the eye of the needle as He was given a bitter cup to drink.
The idea that we can follow Christ and maintain our personal (spiritual) space is an illusion. Jesus minced no words whenever He called each of His disciples. He never concealed the price tag of following Him, but went out of His way to make His terms clear.
It is devastating to go through the eye, but even more destructive not to. Tim Keller shows both extremes in these words.
“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket— safe, dark, motionless, airless— it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. “
On the other side of the needle is perfect freedom – Freedom from the things that entangled us and kept God at arm’s length – Freedom to say “no” to things that once bound us. This freedom involves having less and yet having all things. It means giving up our idea of “space” and saying, “Not my will but Yours be done”.