Are you desperate?
I’ve been reading a book called the Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancy. I’m sure some of you have probably heard of this book or read it. I’m only halfway through myself. I’m always interested in getting back to the basics. Or you could say, finding simplicity again after getting wrapped up in chasing after too many details–which happens to me often. And, of course, getting wrapped up in the little details often robs me of the big picture. Don’t get me wrong, the little details are important, but when I lose sight of the overall goal, it’s time to get simple again.
This is what drew me to this book. I was looking for a new bible study and couldn’t decide. I heard about this book in our Monday night English group and was intrigued by the title. Getting back to just looking at Jesus’ life was very appealing to me. It started with Yancy’s book but it motivated me to go TO the bible…specifically, the gospels…yet again, with a fresh perspective.
Of course, part of the book addresses Jesus’ teachings. The backgrounds of his listeners, the revolutionary message, the way he spoke with authority. Yancy discusses these things from a perspective of someone in the times and then also puts himself in that position. What I enjoy is his daring and honesty in putting “I” in the place of “the jewish people” instead of only speculating what OTHER people would have though of Jesus’ teachings. As Yancy covered a section on the Beatitudes, he said something that stopped me for a moment:
“Human beings do not readily admit desperation. When they do, the kingdom of heaven draws near.”
This required a response from me to myself. I felt immediately compelled to pull the “I” trick. Am I ready to admit that I’m desperate? Can I? Then I realized that I have at times, finally admitted to myself and to God that I am desperate. What does that mean? It means I need help. It means I’ve finally wised up and realized that I do NOT in fact control the small universe around me like I think I do. I say “realize” because I am not often aware of the big picture, once again. I get so wrapped up in “how can I get such and such done and also do this and then that and finally, accomplish all of this within the necessary time frame?” that I lose sight of what’s important. Spending time with my daughter, not just shuttling her all over the place. Taking the time to read to my kids instead of organizing the bookshelves. Playing with the transformers–and my boys–instead of picking them up. I get SO worked up about how “things” are not getting accomplished and I dump it all on myself…I’ve got to handle this, I’ve got to be strong enough…that I don’t realize it will all be taken care of. But not by me. I need to focus on the intangibles, on the eternals and the Lord will provide.
Yancy asks why God would single out the poor for special attention over any other group? He quotes from Monika Hellwig some “advantages” to being poor:
- The poor know they are in urgent need of redemption.
- The poor know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with one another.
- The poor rest their security not on things but on people.
- The poor have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy.
- The poor can distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
- The poor can wait, because they have acquired a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence.
- The fears of the poor are more realistic and less exaggerated, because they already know that one can survive great suffering and want.
- When the poor have the Gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threat of a scolding.
- The poor can respond to the call of the Gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.
Yancy sums it up:
In summary, through no choice of their own–they may urgently wish otherwise–poor people find themselves in a posture that befits the grace of God. In their state of neediness, dependence and dissatisfaction with life, they may welcome God’s free gift of love.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I’m ready to be desperate. I am desperate…for God’s love. I’m glad He’s more than willing to give it.