My Grandmother used to say that when I was a boy, and it made everyone laugh. I thought that was because Mema was not poor. Years later, she told me that yes, it was her clever tongue at work, but it held a deeper meaning that covered painful and difficult memories.
She’d been in a few tough spots. She lived through those two World Wars that sandwiched the Great Depression along with the rise of communism and the fall of decency (her words). Her first husband ran off and left her in the 30s, when divorce was not so normal. Her second husband, my grandfather, was a land speculator, meaning their financial life was feast or famine – he died on a down and left her with a house that she had to sell very quickly. Her eldest son was gay, her youngest (my Dad if that’s not obvious) was a rough sort who preferred gambling (he was also the coolest guy I’ve ever known if not the best role model for fatherhood). There were many joys in her life and many trials, which is like most of us, I guess.
So my grandmother had her apple cart upset more than once. When I asked her what she meant when she said, “Lord, have mercy on us poor folks,” she told me she once heard a sermon that stuck with her by either Billy Graham or Norman Vincent Peale. If you know about preachers, those two aren’t much alike, but for a 94-year-old woman to call them and nine or ten others out from memory, well, I still find that amazing.
Anyway, the sermon was based on Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” She told me that many, many times she had felt poor in spirit, and that was why she called on God’s mercy. She also told me that God always came through, never once failing to answer that small prayer in a personal way.
Since I last wrote something I could publish, I have called on the Lord’s mercy more than once, and like Mema, I am in receipt every time. I’ve had a couple interviews and a promise of a couple more. Thanks for praying for provision. Keep it up, please!
In the kingdom of heaven, there is no want, no loneliness, no fear of the future. It’s the place where God’s great hand overwhelms all that is wrong and lacking in the kingdom of humanity. The place where we lace ’em up and hit it again with great joy alongside great humility. No malady left uncured. All tears wiped away. All sadness converted to joy. All pain redeemed. All doubts turned to irrelevant smoke. Nobody gets laid off or left out (except those who trudge stubbornly on in their personal hell of greed, arrogance, and rebellion, which is a subject for another day).
The kingdom of heaven is a perfectly positive place washed clean by the blood of the lamb, and you are most welcome to join it. Huh, I wonder if maybe Billy and Norman preached the same message.