“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, The Message)
The bus’ tires left the smooth pavement and hit dirt and rocks. As the bus jolted down the road, the road got narrower and narrower. After turning tight corners and dodging huge rocks, we arrived at our destination. The small, leaning building was a church in the midst of a shantytown in Costa Rica.
As we drove past the homes that were constructed with random pieces of lumber and corrugated tin, I realized that I was not in Kansas (or Virginia) anymore. As the children ran barefoot along side the bus to welcome us and out of curiosity, I knew that whatever my first world problems were, they didn’t compare to the lives of these in the third world.
I imagined the words of Mother Teresa as she escorted people down her streets of Calcutta:
“I will show you our people.”
Maria, the wife of the church’s pastor and one of the church’s leaders, led us through the shantytown, taking us to our people. We met a grandmother who was raising up to ten grandchildren. We met a single mother who walked into town, took a thirty minute bus ride to another major city, only to walk more to the coffee fields where she picked coffee beans. Her four sons were left home along in their shack. We met a group of sisters, the oldest was maybe twelve, who stayed home all day by themselves in fear. While their mother was at work, they worried that their abusive father would show up.
You could not look at these faces, these scars, these wounds, these swollen feet, these bleeding toes, these leaning houses, these unattached roofs, without putting your own life into perspective.
Here are people who were hanging on to the end of their ropes. Poverty. Hunger. Abuse. Neglect. Addictions.
End of the rope.
And yet, Jesus says that when you are at the end of your rope, you are blessed. We tend to think that when we have our act together, our home organized, our children in bed, bills paid, we are blessed. Jesus does what Jesus does so well, he says the unexpected. He turns the norm upside down. He shakes it up a little bit.
When we are at the end of our ropes – when we have had enough – that is when we are our weakest. And when we are weak, Jesus is strong – I heard that in a song once. When we are weak, Christ is strong. When we are in that vulnerable place, is it a prime time to have an encounter with the Christ who in his weakest moment was his strongest. When there is less of us, there is more Jesus, and when there is more Jesus, we experience God’s Kingdom.
What this means is that when we are the end of our ropes, it doesn’t make us any less righteous. Think of it as making room for Jesus. The question then becomes, will you let Jesus in?