Have you ever reached the end of yourself? No, I mean really. Like the actual end. Sure, we reach the end all the time…the end of our ropes, the end of our patience, and any number of things. But have you ever found yourself exasperated, searching for answers that won’t come, and feeling devoid of hope in a way that seems inescapable? It is probably something that you’ll only experience a handful of times, and I’d go out on a limb and say that it will be or has been a defining moment in your life. Whether defining to the good, or to the bad, the question of how to navigate it should be at the surface for believers…unless you want to just live under a rock. But then you’d probably still quickly get to the end of yourself, and, well, you’d be under a rock.
In his book, The End Of Me, Pastor Kyle Idleman talks about the blessing that comes from finding the end of yourself. Wait, what? A blessing? Hold on, and fact check me on this. If you’ve experienced the sheer terror that accompanies being at the end of yourself, finding it a blessing seems like a stretch. Maybe even a patronizing stretch. Yet, his case for why the end of yourself is a blessing is rooted in the Sermon on the Mount, and it really centers on Matthew Chapter 5: the famous beatitudes and the reversals of ideas that show just how radical God is. You know what I’m talking about. Blessed are all those people we normally think are cursed: the poor, the weak, the mourners, and all the other poor souls that I’m often glad not to be a part of. Except that I am, and that’s hard to admit.
The beatitudes are funny. Intellectually we get them. Yeah yeah, poor, weak, sad, all that stuff. Of course, Jesus can take those things and make them riches, happiness, and joy. It’s almost fun to read and think about just how amazing it is. That is, until you’re left with nothing and the fear takes over. So often the fear is attacking deeply held ideas…ideas like our security, our reputation, our freedom, our health and so many other things that we hold dear, and often hold on to with a tight illusion-of-control grip. We’re not programmed to embrace weakness. We’re not told how powerful it can be to be poor, and so it’s not a surprise that embracing it isn’t natural.
Speaking of unnatural, what’s really unnatural is complete trust. And yet, that’s the secret to the beatitudes. And it follows through in Matthew 6. He cares for the sparrows and the flowers, and He’ll take care of us. The key is to let go. To do the thing that is completely unnatural. And it’s downright terrifying when you have nothing left and no plan B’s. Yet those times are the test of our real belief. The unrestrained trust that at first seems impossible becomes something we crave. That is a real Spirit-led reversal.
If we want to bring transformation to our neighborhoods, our community, and our world, we must first be transformed. The first step toward transformation is finding and admitting our limited power, strength, control, and resources. We are not enough, in and of ourselves. When we are ready to admit that, drop the constant striving and find all we need in Jesus, we find the end of ourselves is actually beginning of a new life. This life is one lived in the presence and power of the One who has no limits…the only One who can bring true change.