how to be happy: declare yourself bankrupt

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

July 30, 2013

 

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.

 

23 Comments

  1. Kris Camealy

    I love this, Sandy. I have struggled with embracing my own bankruptcy of spirit. But, in the moments when I do, when I will declare it, I do find Him full, and merciful, and generously present. Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Thank you, Kris. I struggle, too. Especially when it comes to grumbling about where I am at this point in my life. I too often focus on what where I might be or might be doing had we made different decisions over the years. I forget that any other path would have been fraught with its own problems and that God has allowed me to be in this place for such a time as this. I suffer from me-itis.

      Reply
  2. louiseg88

    Sandra, you have a beautiful heart. It radiates through every word and photo.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Oh Louise. Thank you for this. You’ve encouraged me today like you so often do. It’s so good to see you. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Rachael

    I am breathing this one in deep. I am needing to let go and find true rest today. I am in need of being deflated and wrapped around the fingers of God, “empty to be stuffed with God.” But first I need to let go and trust. Blessings to you, Sandra! And thank you so much for your words here!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Praying you’re still all wrapped up in Him, Rachael and that you’ll find some stillness this weekend to receive some stuffing.

      Reply
  4. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Wow, Sandy, I’m amazed at the Spirit’s echoes here….I’ve been camping in Matthew 5 the past few days and can’t get past the first ‘Blessed are those..’ In the Amplified it’s even richer:
    “3 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!”
    I like your last phrase about focusing on His promises…THAT is what’s true.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Love the amplification of that verse! Of that whole sermon. Thank you, Jody!

      Reply
  5. marthaorlando

    “You have to be empty to be stuffed with God . . .” So, so true, Sandy. He tells us He is sufficient for us, and that should be our focus every day. Beautiful reflection!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      May we never be sufficiently stuffed–always longing for more.

      Reply
  6. David Rupert

    There is so much truth in this. The paradox is that there is so much more in less. For so many years I was into accumulation of friends, of power, of influence. And now — I am so content with God’s lot. What he gives is just perfect.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Why does it take so long to learn contentment without accumulation?

      Reply
  7. Amy L. Sullivan

    Fantastic, Sandra. I love pair the idea of bankruptcy with being happy.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Once we can learn and accept that we are not in control…

      Reply
  8. Rick Dawson

    Sometimes, the place to start is simply realizing that there is a God, and I’m not Him. Move forward from there. Good post – we don’t hear these words enough.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      It comes down to realizing that we are not in control.

      I’m. Not. God. Nope.

      Reply
  9. Hazel Moon

    When we realize that we are NOTHING (bankrupt) without Christ, then we can become something in HIM, because of HIM.
    So many get themselves in a bad situation, finanicially, and in bad health, by mismanagement, then they want God to fix it and make it all go away. How must we learn to walk the path before us with joy, and unselfishness and lean on him.

    I found you at Rick’s Saturday Shortcuts #10

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      And when we realizing we are bankrupt, we are oh so rich.

      Why does it take so long? So glad you stopped by, Hazel!

      Reply
  10. TCAvey

    We must focus more on His promises than our pain…well said!

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      It’s a hard thing sometimes, though, isn’t it, friend?

      Reply
  11. Betty Draper

    Going to write your phrase “you have to be empty to be stuffed with God” on my fb. What a paraphrase of so many scriptures. Reminds me of a song, I lost it all to gain everything, I died a pauper to become a child of the King. Good post…glad I stopped by.

    Reply

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how to be happy: declare yourself bankrupt

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 2 min
25