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When Poverty And Helplessness Are Good

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It happened on March 15, 2015 – our first day on the slopes over spring break. That morning I was giddy. Kind of like a child waking up on Christmas morning.

We started the day under a clear sky and bright sun. Our family was reunited for vacation, and we were back in the mountains. I love the mountains – and with good reason. My husband and I met in a lift line in Vail, Colorado.

Honestly, there’s not much I enjoy more than riding up on the lift with the people I love most . . . scanning the mountains with our eyes, anticipating the next great run, chatting away, snapping selfies, then getting off the lift to look out over the landscape. Now that’s pure bliss! There are very few things in this world as glorious as that view. Steals my breath every time.

That morning was so perfect. I’m really thankful for those early runs on our first day.

Then it happened. Just before lunch. A twenty-something guy skiing stupid plowed into me hard. Everything around me slammed into slow motion as his skis crossed over mine and I began a long fall to the ground.

The full weight of my body landed on my hip. My head hit the ground so forcefully it bounced up and back down again. The result was three pelvic fractures and extensive soft tissue damage. The end of skiing for me on this trip and the beginning of a long road to recovery.

In the following months, pain, MRI’s, x-rays, and doctor’s appointments filled my days. I was forced to temporarily adopt a new way of life – a life of wheelchairs, crutches, and lots of resting. A major adjustment to say the least. 

With strict orders to be non-weightbearing, I quickly realized (to my great dismay) how helpless I was. And I was not comfortable with that. 

Confined to my house, I lost the freedom to come and go as I pleased. I could no longer clean my house, cook meals for my family, do laundry, make the bed, bend over to pick socks up off the floor, or even take a shower without help. And have you ever tried to balance on one leg while sitting down and getting back up from the toilet? 

During this time, I was also scheduled for a biopsy of uterine growths. 

I have never felt more needy and dependent. Taking up space without having anything positive to contribute to the lives of those around me was brutal. 

Funny thing is, I had to realize and admit my helplessness before I could actually get the care I needed from those around me. I had to personally acknowledge the acute danger of trying to obstinately take a shower by myself (risking a fall). Before I could receive help, I had to embrace my desperate need and inability to do even simple daily tasks.

Admit Your Need

This is precisely the position and posture of heart that’s necessary in order to receive the inheritance and spiritual blessings God promises.

With God, there’s no making ourselves good enough, thinking we can help enough, serve enough, or achieve enough.

To think we can is to underestimate the astounding and unfathomable holiness of the one and only, indescribable God who created those glorious mountains I enjoy so much. 

The bible explains God lives in unapproachable light. It’s stunning and unattainable. 

To get there . . . to approach him . . . to be in his loving presence . . . to get the help we need requires first admitting we are absolutely helpless.

It’s called spiritual poverty. Recognizing we come empty.

Nothing of value to offer. Everything to gain.

It’s a place that’s hard to come to for most of us. Helplessness makes us vulnerable. We run from that. We’d rather take care of ourselves, make our own way, and depend on ourselves. In our self-reliance, we think we’re capable of shining ourselves up so God will accept us. 

helplessness and poverty, mywarminghouse.com, sermon on the mount

(Our view from the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee.)

Jesus’ Message on the Mount

Yet this is what Jesus hammered home in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Don’t think for a minute Jesus was talking about poverty of pocketbook. No, my friend. He was talking about poverty of spirit. Something the Pharisees didn’t have.

The Pharisees relied on their Jewish heritage, familial roots, role in the church, scripture knowledge, and outer acts of righteousness. Their resume was stacked. Credentials impeccable. They were proud and righteous and didn’t believe they needed God’s help. 

helplessness and poverty, mywarminghouse.com, sermon on the mount

(Flowers we enjoyed on the Mount of Beatitudes)

Getting True Righteousness

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarified things for you and me and the “sheep” wandering through life without good shepherds. He wanted us to know what true righteousness looks like – and how it comes.

True righteousness and eternal life begin with recognizing we are helpless and have absolutely nothing of value to offer a righteous, holy, and perfect God. 

They arrive by consciously depending on Jesus for the righteousness necessary to be in God the Father’s presence in heaven. 

And everyday remembering this: How lost we are without our beautiful Savior. How we bring nothing of value to him but 1) an impoverished soul recognizing our great need and 2) our great gratitude for a God who loves and adores us so much. 

How Christianity is Different

Recognizing our inward poverty and desperate need is an internal quality that leads to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Are you at a place in your life where you’re disgusted with yourself . . . where you avoid God because you think you need to make yourself good enough first. Or maybe you’re trying to act like a good Christian but beat yourself up because you just can’t seem to get it right. 

Remember this: the Christian faith is the only faith where works and good behavior don’t save. In reality they don’t anyway. It’s the only faith where helplessness is the key to holiness and eternal life. 

Look at your failures as evidence you are a person in desperate need – in need of a Savior. That’s precisely the condition of heart God desires.

So mourn and grieve over those failures. Be disgusted with your sinful condition. Humble yourself before God. Hunger and thirst for a life of righteousness found in a dependent relationship with Jesus Christ. 

The Benefits of Poverty and Helplessness

In the end, Jesus promises you will be satisfied. 

Those desperately depending on Christ inherit the kingdom of God.

God saves those who are helpless to help themselves. (Psalm 34:18)

His Spirit resides in them reviving their hearts and crushed, dejected spirits. (Isaiah 57:15)

He watches over those who are humble in spirit. (Isaiah 66:1-2)

He gives them his righteousness. (Romans 8:2-4; 10:4)

He gives them grace. (James 4:6-7)

As I faced my injury, I embraced it with real confidence God would use it to refine my character and teach me something good during my time of recovery.

He gave me a valuable reminder of the beauty and necessity of helplessness and dependence.

Lisa~ 


 

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2 Comments

  1. Melissa Gould says:

    Thanks Lisa for a wonderful post. Such a good reminder that our poverty of spirit is the ‘open door’ where God will beckon us to enjoy his presence!

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