If I asked you what the most meaningful times in your life have been, what would you say? When was the last time you truly felt satisfied in that "I literally did something that made a difference in someone's life" kind of way? Those are usually the times when we feel like our life is the most meaningful, aren't they?
We can find blessings at the end of our ropes, when we're content with content with just who we are, and Jesus said, "You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat." (Matthew 5:6) I don't know about you, but I love food. Like LOVE food, especially good food (call me a foodie if you want). During the summers growing up, my family would take a driving trip for two weeks to somewhere around the country and I bet I can remember more about what I ate than about what we saw. When my husband and I plan our trips, the first thing I look into is where we should go to eat, every meal. I just enjoy so much of what God has created, and the brilliant creativity of others, through my taste buds. :) I was spoiled this past birthday by getting to go to not one, but two amazing restaurants with top chefs in the North Loop area of Minneapolis. It's said that you can tell a person's priorities when you look at their credit card statements... Though my husband and I have had to go to a much tighter budget these days with me not working and back at school, we have yet to give up our "eating out" budget...now we just have to prioritize where much more so than before. ;)
If I were honest, I'd have to admit that the top two priorities in my day are thinking about what I'll eat (I wake up doing this) and what/when my workout will be; everything else gets fit into the spaces in between. I've been told that this may change when our baby is born (T-11 weeks)...
So when Jesus said that we're blessed when we work up a good appetite for God (or as the NIV version puts it 'when we hunger and thirst for righteousness'), I can relate. For those of you who have ever trained for a marathon, or an ironman, or ever been pregnant, my hunch is you can relate too because the physical hunger pangs during those seasons are real. We're talking wake up in the middle of the night needing to eat N O W kind of hunger.
My hunch is each of us has those one or two things that we start thinking about the minute we wake up in the morning, the things we are passionate about, that set the trajectory for our day, the things that get us excited (or that we're worried about for that matter). What would it look like if we intentionally gave the same amount of energy towards pursuing the things of God? What if we spent the same amount of resources and time on love, mercy, compassion, grace, justice, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth...? Jesus said that when we do this, our experience of God will be the best food and drink we've ever had... To be more fulfilled than that pork chop from Spoon and Stable left me the other night or the aerated chocolate dessert from Tullibee, wow, I can't wait to experience that!
Jesus turned things around again when He said, "you're blessed when you're content with just who you are -- no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (Matthew 5:5) This no doubt could say a lot to our consumeristic culture, but could it go deeper than that? When Jesus spoke these words, He was speaking to a smaller group of His committed followers. Some of them could have had money, but people didn't have money back then like we do today. Perhaps that made money even more of a thing to contend for, to strive after, to think about, to consume people. But let's set money aside for a minute and imagine that what Jesus was trying to get them, to get us, to see and understand, was that when we live out of our true selves, who God uniquely created us to be, we're blessed.
When we're little, it seems we have no problem loving the things we love, playing with the things we like, ignoring the things we don't... But then somewhere in our adolescent years all of that changes and we try to be like everyone else (there's a rare one of you, who, in your middle school photos doesn't look like all your other friends...for those of you who stay true to yourselves no matter the peer pressure around you, good on you!). And then sometime during or after college (hopefully not too long after that) most of us spend the next 20+ years trying to remember who we were again.
I don't know about you, but I find it tiring trying to be something I'm not. It takes so much extra time, energy, emotions, mental stamina, even money to be someone other than who we were created to be. Either because we're trying to add something to us that's just not there or trying to take away that part of our personality that we don't think belongs (any other loud people out there tried to live as a quiet person because that one time someone, whom you gave way too much power over you to, was embarrassed by how loud you were? It's so much unnecessary work, let's be real...everyone needs a loud person in their life...s/o to my other loud people!). And more than that, when we finally are content being who we are with our niche passions, odd hobbies, funny collections, it's not only the path of least resistance, that's also when Jesus says we're "proud owners of everything that can't be bought." Everything, really?! I don't know about you, but I'm beyond ready to experience all that Jesus meant by that!
Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I come across something that God said and I think, "seriously God, You've got to be kidding!?"
Jesus said, "You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." (Matthew 5:3)
Reading Jesus' words, I have to pause and work through it. I don't know about you, but usually, when I'm literally at the end of my rope, I am quite frankly, in deep deep despair. The last thing I'm thinking about is how "blessed" I am.
Sometimes I'm at the end of my rope because of a decision(s) I made. But other times, it's because of circumstances around me that are completely out of my control. A few years ago, there was a week-and-a-half period when three unrelated events kept knocking me to my knees to the point where the final one left me reeling so hard that I remember telling my parents, "I can't pray anymore. I'm so tired of all this pain and heartache. i. just. can't. pray."
When we find ourselves at the end of our ropes, we've done all that we can do. We have nothing left of ourselves to give. We've either created some mess that we're in and don't have anything left to give. Or we find ourselves in circumstances created by the evil and chaos of this world and we find there is nothing that we can do or say that can make things better. Either way, it feels like our lives are over. There's no hope left. We're drowning in a pit of despair. Things can't possibly get any better. This must be the end...
But then God. When we've got nothing left, the only thing that remains is God. What if we could believe that when all else is gone, God is big enough that He is actually enough? When we literally have nothing else, we're at the end of our rope, what if God is there? What if God gently wants us to trust that His plans for us, and everyone around us, to experience an abundant life, still remain?
It never feels like a place of blessing when there is nothing left of ourselves. But we can trust that somehow, someway, God still has a plan. And His desire has always been, and will always, be to love us and bless us. It's at the end of our ropes that we experience the fullness of this love, grace, mercy, comfort, peace, goodness, faithfulness. When all else is lost, it's here that we find the fullness of God's blessings.