bankruptcy

Our pastor tells a story about how France’s King Louis XIV planned his own farewell extravaganza. He left instructions that at his funeral service, the Notre Dame cathedral would remain dark except for a single candle above his golden coffin, the candle placed to shine on his greatness and inspire his mourners to awe.

The priest, Jean-Baptiste Massillon, carried out the plan—except just before he launched into his sermon, he snuffed out the candle and proclaimed, “Only God is great!”

Louis did not realize how weak he really was.

A friend of mine says she’s waiting for circumstances to change so she can be happy. She’s made some poor spending decisions, and now she gets several calls a week from debt collectors. But instead of paying bills, she buys more stuff. She wonders if she should declare herself bankrupt so she can start fresh. She’s too ashamed, though. And it would be so humiliating.

Maybe she should.

But not the way she’s thinking.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, said Jesus in Matthew 5:3.

In other words, Snoopy-spin giddy are those who realize they’re destitute, that they’ve got nothing. That they’re hopeless and helpless and small no matter their circumstances.

They’re no longer blinded by gold or greatness or glitz.

Jesus, of course, wasn’t talking about physical poverty. True happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances, whether we perceive them to be good or bad. It begins when we admit we’re broken and walking in the dark.

It reminds me, though, of what a mission team member said last December, “I had to come to Haiti to see God.”

Because so often it’s the physically impoverished who don’t have the stuff that distracts them from the light, the stuff that blinds them to wonder.

You have to be empty to be stuffed with God.

But admitting that, admitting that life is not all about us, that we can’t outshine Him, is humiliating. And it’s right where God wants us.

It’s the first step toward being showered with kingdom blessings because every other “blessed” depends on an attitude of humility. And the deeper we go into the kingdom, the deeper we grow into humility. It all starts with getting our eyes off ourselves and fixing them on God.

How can we know we’re growing deeper into humility?

  1. We wander in His wonder, marvel at the smallest miracles.
  2. We stop grumbling and complaining.
  3. We see and appreciate the strengths of others.
  4. We’re content to simply be and let God do through us.
  5. We give thanks in all things.
  6. We focus more on His promises than our pain.

We have to acknowledge we’re bankrupt before we can bank on true happiness, the happiness that humility breeds and breathes.