“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
–Matthew 5:3
When I was courting my future wife Stephanie and seeking to impress her, I learned that while she liked good food, she was looking for something deeper: great company and conversation. Needless to say, both of us got what we wanted, but I learned something in the process.
“What is that,” you ask. Well, I learned we both liked to go out to eat.
In all seriousness, it wasn’t that simple. I also learned a much deeper truth, and here is how that happened.
I kept spending money in order to impress Stephanie, but the day of reckoning came when it was time to pay the rent. My landlord told me that my check had bounced, but since this had never happened before, he said that he would work out a payment plan with me.
I was quite humbled by this event. Realizing my budgettary limitations in a new way, I knew I had to tighten my belt. But fortunately for me, my landlord was also my friend, but the whole rent situation had still put a crimp in my style.
As I reflected upon the above verse, in light of not having the rent, I had to ask myself if Jesus meant more than I had seen in these words. When He spoke about poverty of spirit, what was He saying to me? Was I really depending upon Christ enough, or was I trying to accomplish things in my own strength?
Since each of us goes through unique trials and responds differently to life in general, we continually need to ask ourselves the same question. Meditating upon this truth can affect you in new ways, and change and deepen your life. I hope, therefore, that my journey will help you see what this question accomplished in my own life.
But as I have seen how God has worked in my life since then, and I found that my first evaluation of the event wasn’t true. Writing this devotion has caused me to think about this verse again, and God’s Word has shown me just how much He has blessed me with a new-found peace. It continues to speak to me of the deeper life I can look forward to. Instead of just being an intelectual exercise, then, I have attempted to take God’s words into my daily life, and they have now become even clearer to me. But it dawned on me that my physical bank account was a reflection of my spiritual lifestyle. This revelation was the first of many discoveries about my Christian walk.
So I ask myself: Had I really changed back then because of this understanding? if I was honest, I knew that after things were straightened out, I had moved on to new life experiences and forgotten all about the rent-check dilemma. So unfortunately, the answer is that I hadn’t changed too much.
While I thought about this, my mind turned to the story of Peter’s adventure, when he walked towards Jesus on the water. I have to confess that as this blog entry flowed from me, I wondered what Peter’s story had to do with spiritual poverty, but I felt compelled to go with the flow of my writing. Upon further deliberation, however, I realized that Peter’s story did indeed hold a proverbial key. Like Peter, I could not walk on water, but I sometimes pretended I could. In other words, I was not immune to the storms of life, and I could not face them alone. In my pride, I had tried to weather the storms without God more often than not, so I needed to take another step. I had to ask God for forgiveness, and ask myself a question: How does the concept of what Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount continue to affect my life today?
I didn’t need a new revelation of my inadequacy and frailties. When it came to handling the storms of life, I simply needed to clutch God’s hand more tightly. I realized that I had been like a disobedient child, letting go of my Father’s hand in the middle of a busy street.
I have been a Christian for many years, but like Peter, I still need to call out to Jesus more often during my trials. Unlike Peter, I knew that I hadn’t done that during the rent debacle. To my chagrin, I had to admit that when I felt like I was sinking, I often moved further away from Christ. Perplexed, I asked myself why this was the case. Then my thoughts rested on the Words Of jesus when He said I could do nothing without Him.
whenever I feel afraid and alone in the tempest of life, I know I need to replace that fear with thoughts of God’s love. “Peter must have done the same thing when he faced turbulence on the sea of Galilee,” I told myself.
But the 64-dollar question came when I asked myself how to accomplish this. I thought once more about how Peter was motivated by fear that day, as he watched the waves growing higher and higher. Then I asked myself if that wasn’t an accurate picture of life. I smiled as I pictured Peter holding onto Jesus’ hand for dear life. When Peter grasped Jesus’ hand, he placed his life and his trust in the hands of his Father. Because of that simple act, Jesus was able to help Pete back into the boat, and that is what He wants to do for you and me.
Later, in one of his letters, Peter instructs us to follow his example by casting all of our cares upon God, because He cares for us. Peter is pleading with all of us to allow God to hold our hands more tightly during the storms we face. The same Jesus who talked about the poverty of spirit we must have in order to come humbly before Him says, “Let me help you back into the boat, just as I helped Peter. I have not forsaken you. I will be faithful during the hard times.”
Though our feelings may tell us otherwise, God wants us to know with certainty that He is in control of all the headakes in our lives. Maybe when you go through trials, you are asking the wrong questions, as I once did. Instead of asking why God is allowing this to happen, maybe it would be better to ask how a God of love wants to mold and shape us through what He has allowed in our lives.
God holds out His hand of mercy to all of us, and asks us to throw ourselves into His loving arms. Instead of letting go in the middle of a busy street, He is challenging you to clutch His hand more tightly and keep on walking.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.