Oct 11 2011
Blessed are the Spiritually Bankrupt

You know that feeling, when God is right there, thisclose, and you can just feel His loving arms around you, and you can literally hear His voice, whispering in your ear, telling you how much He loves you? 

I don't. 


Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."  I'm not sure what that means.  But I think Dallas Willard was the one writing about how "Blessed are the poor in spirit" really means, "Good news!  In MY Kingdom, even the spiritually bankrupt get invites!" 

Oh, man, I hope he's right.  That would be great news for me.  Because I'm not very spiritual.  Never have been.  I've tried.  And I'll keep trying.  But I'm just not.  I don't feel much of anything a lot of the time.  I'm sorry. 

I know;  I probably won't be writing old-school hymns:  "And He walks with me, I'm pretty sure, and He talks with me, in some ways, and He tells me I am His own, but generally not through an audible voice that I hear, at least in a non-metaphorical sense, and none other has ever known just how awkward it even is for me to talk about my faith, personally, and I know I should feel bad about that, too, but I keep trying."

Not a very good hymn.

Maybe I'm still doing something wrong.  I've never come by faith easily.  I don't get swept up in swirling "powerful worship".  Shoot, I'm not even comfy in it.  I don't take easily to praying out loud, even among friends.  I keep trying.

Could Jesus have been talking to people like me, the spiritually dry, when He was talking about how great the Kingdom is?  Maybe Jesus was saying, "Guess what?  When I'm in charge, it's good news even for the people who aren't all spiritual-y."

It means even I can participate!  I can get on this Gospel ride, even if I'm not as spiritually tall as this cut-out stand-up of Third Day.


I'm thankful for my brothers and sisters who are so different from me, who've had profound, undeniable experiences.  A woman called yesterday, a woman whose husband committed suicide and left her with her kids.  And she was lonely, and helpless, and despairing... and God showed up.  And He put His arms around her, and she felt it, and knew she was not alone. 

I don't doubt God is like that.  In fact, it's why I love Him.  I know He's a father to the fatherless, and a champion of widows, and a lover for the scorned.  But...

...there is no "but".  He's just good.  So good that people like me, maybe like you, are invited to the party, too.  Oh, we might limp in, but we're totally there.


The truth of Jesus is a two-edged sword, of course.  "Happy are the spiritually bankrupt" -- if that's the correct interpretation -- would sure bug some religious people, some people who really think they're spiritually rich.   But, hey, everything Jesus said bothers them.

And that, alone, makes me suspect Willard is on to something.

Comments (29) -

10/11/2011 1:05:03 PM
monica United States
thanks brant!  this came at the perfect time for me... i was thinking about this yesterday, in fact.  i've never been one of those people (my mom's a good example) who hear God's voice and are lead very easily or one of those people who can feel God's presence surrounding them.  i have no doubt that God is always there with me but i was feeling a little guilty/sad/confused yesterday that i can't feel Him and i can't hear Him guiding me.  like you, i try to listen and i try to feel and i've always felt a bit defeated that i just can't.  your words have given me encouragement though and i'm going to be looking at this "issue" in a whole new way.  Smile
10/11/2011 1:05:19 PM
Carolyn United States
Brant, thank you. I have some "God moments" now and then, but I share these feelings with you more often than not. How do those super spiritual people DO it?? I'm just grateful Jesus loves ever after, and I don't have to do anything but fall in His arms.
10/11/2011 1:10:22 PM
brant United States

Bottom line:  I suspect God is so good, it would be mind-blowing, if we could take in a tiny fraction of it.  To not only LET us in the party, but to actually WANT us...
10/11/2011 1:13:48 PM
Jenn Simons United States
Jenn Simons
Thanks, Brant!! Thank you so much for this. I know EXACTLY how you feel...I'm the same way. I thought I was the only one and there was something wrong with me. Thank you for sharing and letting me know that I'm ok!!!
10/11/2011 1:19:08 PM
Debbie Sneddon United States
Debbie Sneddon
Good to know someone else feels like I do sometimes.Thanks for your honesty Brant, and Happy Birthday!
10/11/2011 1:31:15 PM
Patty Brown United States
Patty Brown
WOW!!! This is so totally me! I thought for sure I was the only one who didn't feel God. I'm thankful that I'm not and I don't have to feel Him to know that He's there Laughing
10/11/2011 1:40:17 PM
Adam United States
Both you and the Christians who take the road of discipleship are blessed; just in different ways.
I don't believe you are as spiritually bankrupt as you think you are. Spiritual experiences aren't usually orgasmic episodes. They are subtle feelings similar to those shared between friends or family, just slightly different. The theatric spirituality is all that, a good show of theatrics; stuff like 'Jesus Tackles' or 'Jesus Orgies' are reserved for the stubborn like Paul.
The spiritually weak are blessed in that they do not know the law intimately. They do not know every sin they are guilty of; they can be happy bearing only the smallest bit of responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, the spiritually weak also rarely know the message of Jesus intimately and do not realize the blessed gift they have.
The Disciples are blessed because they have an extremely intimate relationship with God(and scare the hell out of the devil, pun intended.); yet they also bear the curse of knowing almost every thing they are guilty of.  It doesn't matter that grace reaches them too, they still carry a mental list of every transgression. They have to stop and think, lest they say something that leads the spiritually weak away, or have something new to feel guilty of. Luke 12:48 points this out with what surely was the inspiration for Spiderman's 'With great power, comes great responsibility.' So is it worth it to be a disciple? Yes. Yes it something very special, with a special reward. There is peace that rarely comes to those who are not disciples. The spiritually weak will continue to live by their own power and worry over everything, yet the disciples have the peace of knowing God has equipped them for most things and God will protect them from everything else; there is a letting go only a select few can come to terms with. Yet discipleship is not for everyone; it is for a select few, those who have been called; the least of all people, the ones who were born broken and have nothing to live for except God. Neither should envy the other; God called each person to the life they can handle.
10/11/2011 1:47:28 PM
Adam United States
Also, discipleship does not equal religiousness. Religiousness equals a lack of spirituality; there is something seriously wrong if you think going to church every Sunday and watching only PG rated movies justifies you or makes you more righteous.
10/11/2011 4:41:53 PM
Clarita United States
Thanks be to God that He loves us for who we are and not what we might or not feel. I also have my spiritual momens and sometimes I dont. He still loves me the same. THANK YOU JESUS!!!
10/11/2011 5:06:09 PM
cindi United States
I feel this way So much for reasons I don't want to bore anyone with.
It is a comfort to know I am not the only one.
Brant, thank you for your honesty, insight an wisdom.
Truth be told .. you are Very Spiritual.
It shines through you.
It illuminates you... for others to see, even if you don't see it in yourself of Feel it yourself.

10/11/2011 5:26:23 PM
Tammy United States
I have been going through such a hard time in my life lately. The storm is raging all around, yet I don't seem to be able to talk to God or give it to God or anything but just flail and drown in it. Thank you for this blog. It helps me get through.
10/11/2011 5:57:50 PM
Raquel United States
Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I have often felt this way! I came to the realization, around 22 or 23, that I so longed to feel what I saw others in my church experiencing, that found myself "faking it" hoping one day, if I tried hard enough, I would have a breakthrough. My mom was a very spiritual person, and I have felt at times that I wasn't doing her memory justice by not being as devout as she was. Even though you don't have a "fix" it's so good to know I'm not alone!!
10/11/2011 6:05:20 PM
Charlene United States
All I can say is WOW. I thank you for this beacause I know Im not alone in how I feel. My Spirituality was crushed a long time ago and I still struggle with it daily. Yes I believe in God and he is always there for me no matter what. I'm at my breaking point now but I know He is here with me I just can't feel Him.
10/11/2011 7:15:20 PM
Katie United States
Thank you, Brant, for always making me think! I have also felt this way and often wondered if there was something wrong with me. But I have come to know that just because I don't walk around on a "Jesus cloud", I am not alone. I have at times felt that I am being held in His arms and I know that He is very close to me. But for the most part, I don't feel "spiritual", in an outward sense. For me, it doesn't really matter if other people see me and think "Wow, she sure is a spiritual person!" As long as I glorify God in all I do, whether it is seen or unseen, acknowledged or not, God knows how I feel and what my intentions are. It has taken me 30 years to learn this and He is still teaching it to me! I, too, am glad that those of us who are "spiritually bankrupt" can also dwell with God in His glory someday. For it is God who keeps the score, not man!
10/11/2011 7:16:26 PM
TCarr United States
Yow. There's really someone like you that could feel this way? I too have had my "God moments" when I know He has shown up to comfort me or just show up through me, and I've had a few GREAT prayer times...... but keyword there is FEW, and far between.
In regards to what Adam said, I am one of the spiritually weak.
Anyway, great to know even people like me aren't alone out there.....
10/11/2011 7:40:29 PM
Heidididit United States
Cheesehater...my mom always put that verse into perspective in using the term 'spiritually bankrupt'.  When the WWJD melodrama was put aside, my eyes were opened to what spirituality really is.  And, it doesn't seem to involve the bells and whistles that we see all too often....that I'm guilty of displaying at times. Although, I catch myself on the opposite end of the spectrum...as a cynic...when I put my hope in that deceptive form of "spirituality".  It may serve up a great latte, but that's just about it.      

Btw...I tried singing your hymn, and I'm just not feeling the iambic pentameter.  Thanks for not pushing that one.  If you were WWJD-melodramatic "spiritual", you probably would have done so.

Good words today.  Thanks.    
10/11/2011 8:03:05 PM
T K Martinez United States
T K Martinez
Bottom line is, God is more than a feeling, and faith is the evidence of things hoped for... So "feeling" God's manifest presence or "hearing" His voice are small parts indeed of the Christian walk. However, Jesus was speaking to the humble-hearted, those who do not puff themselves up, as being blessed because humility fosters in us a desire to taste the fullness of God, including His presence. We should not be content with spiritual dryness... Jesus said that whoever comes to His fountain will never thirst again, and that from his belly would flow living waters. It's not even about trying, I don't think. Ask, and, believing, you shall receive. Smile
10/11/2011 9:09:43 PM
Emily United States
Thank you so much for this. I am feeling this a lot right now. I thought something was wrong with me. Thank you for reminding me of this verse and for writing your thoughts. It's great to know that I'm not the only one who is like this.
10/12/2011 5:54:47 AM
Michelle United States
THis is the first blog of Brant's that I read, and now I want to keep reading more of his blog entries. I feel this way alot. I believe in God, but I can't always talk to him, for one reason or another. I know he's here, like Brant said, I can feel him sometimes, I know he or one of his many angels are helping me along, but do I constantly talk about him? Or to him? No, not really.

Its not that I ignore him, it is just harder for me to. I used to be "spiratully rich" but my great grandpa died and I went to church with him every day. I guess he is what got my started in my faith in God, and got me talking to him all the time. But he died and it become harder to talk to Jesus. Just recently I've started rebelieving in him, but I am no longer "spiratully rich".

So thank you Brant. I really trully appreciate this blog entry of yours. Thank you.
10/12/2011 7:04:52 AM
Erica United States
Hey Brant, I've been raised in a Christian household so I've been exposed to the faith since I was tiny, but I've been confused lately about all this "feeling"...what does that mean? I've talked to people who have done something that they would earlier have said was wrong, because they "felt" that it was the right thing to do. I always pray silently because that is when I "feel" like I'm talking to God for real. And what about that "feeling" we get at church, singing along to praise music with repetitive choruses and resounding bass rhythm? Are our "feelings" misleading us? Do you have any thoughts on this? I'm so curious.
10/12/2011 7:57:49 AM
Waiting for my flight United States
Waiting for my flight
We are the body of Christ so like a body we all have our own purpose so not everyone is going cast out devils. I do want to say that the Bible says we can do greater things than what Christ did but it doesn’t make you any less if you don’t in G-D’s eyes. What a wonderful Savior we have that we can come as we are and all the works we do will not compare to the relationship we had sought after for Christ. I want to add that I may be considered “spiritual” and I have had the Spirit move in me by some of the post you have posted Brant. You are more “spiritual” than you think. You have a gift my friend and since these post moves me closer to G-D this gift is from G-D. For the other poster, it took over 20 years to have dreams, speaking in tongues, ETC. For a long time I was the guy who brought donuts to church gatherings. I have learned that with fasting, being baptizes in the Holy Spirit, and G-D’s timing you will experience such things. But if you don’t the biggest thing you can do to be super “spiritual” is to live you life as an example to the unsaved.   People are looking at your life and how you react to the hard times or how convict you are in Christ. You example in the way you live will be more powerful or more spiritual than having visions, dreams or speaking in tongues. So, if you don’t “catch on fire” or get the “Holy Ghost do dads”, you are still very important to this body.  
10/12/2011 11:22:56 AM
Greg United States
Wow!  Thanks I really, really needed that.  
10/12/2011 7:08:24 PM
Michelle Wolff-McAnally United States
Michelle Wolff-McAnally
And this is why you're so missed in Colorado. This couldn't be more welcome - thank you for your honesty.  In my darkest moments I don't hear a thing  except one time. Once when I was being robbed at gunpoint (over 25 years ago) I "knew" something/someone was there with me and I was not afraid to die: which didn't last long by they way - it scares me...well...to death lol! to think about dying now but at that moment I felt completely safe.  I do think God was there then but on a daily basis I feel like what you have written above.  Like I'm just plodding along through my days and talking to God hoping He hears me.  Even if he doesn't at least I feel better Smile
10/12/2011 9:53:45 PM
Joni United States
Thank you Brant.  I have always felt broken in that respect and inadequate compared to many of my Christian friends.  I still do.  I cant help but wonder what am i doing wrong, is it that i am not worthy?  I do however feel something while singing praise and worship songs and am often moved to tears.. which is actually kind of annoying when you really want to sing the song Smile That happens alot but I dont know if Im just emotional or is it the Holy Spirit moving in me.. I just dont know for sure... but if i stopped feeling that way, even though I find it somewhat annoying, i think I would miss it very much.
10/13/2011 2:20:52 AM
Kevin United States

Oh how I miss you in the mornings! Even if you were still on then, I wouldn't be able to listen to you in my current location.

I just found your blog and you always make me think. A few years ago. I was a mess, but God used you, and others to bring me back to Him.

Christians aren't supposed to be stamped out with a cookie cutter. We're not supposed to be like robots built on an assembly line. God made us all unique. We shouldn't strive to act "spiritual" or all worship the same. Or think that we are "missing something" if we don't feel what other Christians may feel.

We seek The Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. If you read the Gospels, you will find out who He really is. Because as he said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father." And what I see in Christ, is more love than I can even comprehend.
10/15/2011 11:54:26 AM
Noeiza United States
10/16/2011 10:34:59 AM
Daniel United States

As the many responses above show, you are not alone in this struggle. When I was younger and a new Christian, I found myself swept up in religious fervor frequently. As the years went by, some bad things happened to me and my heart hardened somewhat and I no longer felt the great passion I had before. I still believed, but I no longer felt the presence of God daily. MANY new and old believers struggle with this issue. They believe, but they can't hear God's voice. What do we do about this? Well it may sound cliche' but you need to pray. Then pray some more. And then pray a little more. I came to understand that the blockage in the pipeline was not on God's end but in my own heart. I needed to heal and learn to open my heart truly to Him. Some who have suffered great hurt struggle to do this, and some people have never learned to truly open their heart to anyone to start with. You have to pray for healing of your hurts and courage to open your heart to the Lord. It may take a lifetime to actually happen but if you ask God enough, one day your heart will be opened to Him and you will feel every bit of His love. Remember this: Being a Christian is not a destination, it's a never ending journey. May God bless you and heal you!  
11/30/2011 11:34:30 AM
Jeni United States
This is such an awesome post.  I really needed this right now.  Today I went to an event at my church after not being there in a while, and I just felt absolutely awkward around all these people who are 'spiritually blessed'.  

Thanks Brant!
1/31/2012 6:34:08 AM
tantenoonie United States
I know it's a few months later, but I had to comment and say thank you. It's such a relief to hear that there are even a small handful of people that can understand where I am. I so very often feel like I'm lacking in some way. Like I'm a lesser Christian.

I try. I do. I pour everything out to God, but I don't ever "feel" anything coming back towards me. I've seen it. Good grief, have I seen it. Through saved lives, saved relationships, and through laying the groundwork for provision even BEFORE I ever knew I would need it. I see the miracles, I recognize them, I appreciate them. (Ugh. That just sounds so... not enough... doesn't it?). I'll never deserve any of it and I know that, so it inevitably makes me feel terribly guilty for not reciprocating with enough grandeur.

No matter what I've tried, I just can't become one of the vocal ones. It's just not in my blood, the crazy emotions. I don't get wrapped up in my worship to where I start shouting scripture. I don't stand up during the testimony time and pour my life out, sobbing. I hate praying in front of other people, and see, that's the BIG one. You don't pray in front of people, they assume you just don't pray. People question your relationship with God, even if they couldn't be further from the truth.

I've tried for years to break the "comfort-bubble" but it's not working. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to be truly used. Right now, it seems a bit far away.

Anyways. Long story, short: Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.
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