Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt

A couple of years ago Jamie and I decided to move down to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. We had three hundred dollars in the bank, and the promise of an acquaintance to rent a home, until I could find a job in the city. We had the zealous hope of a new chapter, and the future seemed wide open…

Shortly after we moved here, I had this brilliant idea to take a road trip to the Carolina coast; I had always wanted to surf the Charleston beaches, so I tucked my surfboard into the car and made it a solo adventure. I surfed with the dolphins and chatted with tourists. I lingered in the surf shops and eventually began the six hour trek home.

*There are parts of South Carolina that you just might want to avoid. Long highway stretches separate the progressive boom town of Charleston, from the backwoods mystery of lesser known places… and it was here, in the middle of the unknown, that my engine blew a head-gasket. Smoke poured from the hood of my Jetta, and there was no hope of a quick fix. I hitched a ride to the nearest gas station, that had promptly closed at five pm. It was beginning to get dark, and I could hear banjo music… No cell phone reception, no credit card, and the music was getting louder!

I finally waived down a motorist, and he gave me a lift to a phone booth up the road. I was able to call Jamie collect and I explained the situation. She scurried to put the girls in the mini-van and attempted to rescue me, but somewhere outside of town, the transmission blew on her van as well. So my wife and kids were simultaneously stranded six hours away!

[That awkward moment when you keep seeing reruns of Deliverance in your mind, as the darkness is setting in…]

Jamie finally got a hold of a friend-of-a-friend who immediately set out to retrieve me. This guy drove an F-350 with a flatbed trailer behind it, and five hours later, he found me on the side of the road (hiding behind some trees!). He loaded my car up and I climbed into the passenger seat. I was so ecstatic to have been found, rescued, and returned…

As we neared Columbia, we pulled off to get something from the drive-through at McDonald’s. He ordered a bunch of food for both of us, and I insisted on calculating the totals, “Here, let me pay!”,  but he ignored my request.  I kept a close eye on his gasoline, mileage, and time granted; I was going to make this all up, I had promised.

After my persistent requests to let me pay for this favor, he just looked at me and said, “You don’t understand grace, do you?”


Jesus inaugurated an inverted power system as he announced the Kingdom of Heaven and the New World Disorder. “Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt” [ptochos]; a word picture of absolutely nothing left in the bank… running on fumes and now the fumes have evaporated. Guilty. Surrender. Ptochos.

The good news of the gospel is that God has heard the cry of his children, and He has set forth on a rescue mission to retrieve the prodigals… And when you find yourself standing on the side of a barren highway, with no money and no hope and a blown head gasket and burned bridges and the scandalous resume as a liar/fraud/cheat, your only posture is to make a collect phone call to Heaven, and beg for Mercy.

Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

One thought on “Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt

  1. Althought I don't come here very often, every once in a while, when I go to clean up my blog bookmarks, I think of deleting ones but cannot bring myself to touch, “Grace Like Rain.”

    I guess I feel a kinship to you, somehow. Our connection goes waaaaay back to montague bible baptist. I also attended Lakeshore for a brief time, and like you, my memory of time is jumbled, as I was buried in a deep and pridefuly sin, filling my God-hole with all things good like church, family, and capturing photographs of said family, but never finding time to nurture a realtionship with the Rock of Ages.

    I know for certain I was there on the sunday when 3 young men stood up the whole service facing the back of auditorium, the topic was Shadrack's, Meshack's, and Abendego's faith. Very moving.

    I was also there on that fateful Sunday, but left right after the sermon.

    Your most recent writing has blessed me beyond measure. You truly have a gift with words and thoughts. The world has yet to see what God will do with one … totally sold out and passionate for Him and Him alone.

    Your prison cell door is open my friend… walk through and be free. Be healed. Be filled to overflowing. Be whole. Be happy. Grace like rain has covered you.

    I'm praying for you and your family. God bless,
    Julee Wilke
    Grey Barn Stories

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