“Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build for Me? And where is the place of My rest?…But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2
The dwelling of God comes only to the poor—the contrite in spirit. There are no exceptions to this rule and no escape clause for the many western believers such as myself who happened to be born in this day and age. Poverty, deep contrition of soul, is the only small door of entrance to the promise of God’s abiding presence. And such poverty cannot be contrived. It cannot be pretended or even willed into being. One becomes poor in spirit not by will but by revelation. And that revelation must be continual or it will quickly yet subtly fade into the ever-present enticement and colorful hues of human strength.
To become poor one must dwell incessantly in the discomfort of inability, weakness and insufficiency. One must be what he is—an innate inadequacy fulfilled only in the Transcendent One—and he must be this perpetually not periodically.
Such feeble living does not arrive at one’s doorstep as though it were easily ascertained. To live continually in what Jesus called “poverty of spirit” requires the radical resistance of “putting on” spiritual strength and the day by day pursuit of the only One Holy and Beautiful—He who’s existence alone fulfills my gaping deficiency and transforms my innate poverty to eternal riches (2 Cor. 8:9).
Jesus’ continual coming to and residing with the poor and the outcast was not some generous act of compassion He exemplified for us—a sort of mercy ministry on the side that He benevolently added to His good works. It isn’t as though He heroically “opened the door” of His Kingdom also to the poor, but rather that He narrowed that door to these and no others. He did not come for the rich, for the healthy or for the strong but for the poor, for the sick and for the weak.
And thus, as a believer living in the western world in this day and age, I must agree with Jesus about the difficulty of the rich man for entering the Kingdom. And if it were not for His strong statement of hope—that with God all things are possible—I might be given over to despair (Matt. 19:26). Yet these words—and more specifically the One who speaks them—keep my heart in hope and as they resound in my heart I pray for grace, perpetually, to find that small door of poverty and there enter. Instead of so quickly saying, “O God, how kind You were to help the poor” I set myself among the poorest and say, “O God, here am I. Come to me.” Instead of looking at His tenderness toward the sick and commending Him for His compassion, I say, “O Jesus, I am deeply sick beyond even my knowing. Be moved in Your heart to heal me.”