Indigence

- posted by Ian Thompson

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Matt 6:3


“The auctioneer is not going to be able to come tonight,” Mark explained to me during a break at last Friday night’s Gala for Urban Sanctuary. Internally, I groaned. This was the proverbial straw that would break our backs. The weather had snarled up traffic so that more than a dozen people couldn’t come; several others had significant family crises that took them away from our evening and my heart was breaking for them.


Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


I had the flu and was barely holding it together. I had asked as many people as I could to take parts of the program in case I wasn’t able to stand on stage. The computer died during our observance of the Office Prayers. I felt quite poor in spirit already knowing that we still needed to finish off the auction and put everything away. It was getting late and we couldn’t stall anymore. “Do you want to try your hand at auctioneering?” I asked Mark.  “Not any more than you do,” was what I could see in his eyes. He and his wife, Churyl, needed to look after collecting the bids and keeping all the administration pieces of the auction together so I quickly decided that the items up for the live auction would now done through a silent auction process. My heart slipped even lower. Urban Sanctuary was really counting on this auction because our cash flow problems were pretty severe.


          Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


I announced that our auctioneer was unable to come through a number of unfortunate circumstances and that we would be doing the remaining items through a silent auction, and as an afterthought, added, “Unless there is someone here who would like to try being an auctioneer.” That is a crazy thing to say, I thought. Most people would rather die than speak in public but to conduct an auction when you haven’t been trained is ludicrous. Mark was putting silent auction sheets beside the live auction tables and I was trying to fill in a couple of minutes of time so that this could reach a merciful end, when I saw a hand waving, desperately waving. “Now what else could possibly go wrong?” I grumbled silently.


          Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


“My husband, Harv, would be willing to step in and be your auctioneer,” beamed Kerry, who has been a friend of Urban Sanctuary for years. I looked at Harv, and clearly he was willing. I have presided over a number of charity functions in the past 25 years but never have I seen someone volunteer to be an auctioneer! The shock was almost too much for my weakened body; I didn’t ask twice but handed things over to capable hands and collapsed in the downstairs washroom.


          Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Over the next few days, between sleeping and feeling physically miserable, I talked to God (I actually did, but that is another blog post) about His strange ways. The people responded well to the auction and our needs were met. The food was great, decorations wonderful and it was marvelous to talk with people who have supported us over the years and deepen our friendships. God reminded me that kingdom work was being accomplished and that He was pleased with the character and the work of Urban Sanctuary. I pondered this in my dark frame of mind for sickness often affects our spirits as well. I countered God’s affirmation with reminders that we feel pretty weak, confused about most of our circumstances and clearly without glitz or power. God’s response over the next few hours was to teach me again the foundation of the kingdom of God.


          Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


          The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, November 28.


Eventually I stopped questioning and really rested. God really does do His greatest work in the kingdom when I am destitute, emptied of ideas and plans, humbled and ready to let Him do whatever He, the King of the kingdom, wants to do.

I find kingdom work hard, confoundedly insane. Counterintuitive. Humbling. God does His best work when I am indigent (lacking in something requisite, if you don’t haven’t used that word recently). I like to be confident, proficient, competent and bursting with something to give God but that is not the way God builds His kingdom. He looks for the poor in spirit and gives them the kingdom. His method is indigence.





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P.S. Thank you to all who came to the auction, who wanted to come but couldn’t, to the dozens who made and donated items, to Millwoods Evangelical Missionary Church for their hospitality, for those who bought items, for helpers who decorated and served, for Churyl’s remarkable deserts and to Harv, our indigent auctioneer. Thank you for building the kingdom with Urban Sanctuary, as we offer our poverty, our indigence to the King to build His kingdom.

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