“Just how bad do you think you’ve got it?”


At the shelter, we’re required to attend chapel for an hour every night. I normally find it just as edifying as a traffic jam.

The group from “Guilford” presents on the fourth Monday every month. About a dozen of them come. Their leader is J_____ R__.  Different ones preach in different months. When J_____ R__ preaches, the message is always the same.

“Just how bad do you think you’ve got it?”

He reads the first chapter of the book of Job, and proceeds to harangue us that we’re not as grateful as we should be for the things we have. “You woke up this morning in your right mind, and you came in here on your own two feet.”

This gives me multiple issues.

I know these men pretty well, and none of them is crying the blues about what he hasn’t got. Me? I’m very eager to hear about how to use what I do have, to advance myself out of homelessness, glorify God and create prosperity for myself and others. We get no such from J_____ R__ — or any of the other chapel preachers.

He says, “You woke up this morning in your right mind,” to a group that knows full well at least half a dozen of them did not wake up in their right mind.  That’s how they got here.

What is his gospel for the schizophrenic?

He says, “You came in here on your own two feet,” to a group that as often as not includes amputees in wheelchairs.  True fact.

What is his gospel for men with no feet?

Those who want to cry the blues are prone to quote this saying:

“You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots.”

There is another saying:

“I felt bad because I had no shoes,
until I met a man who had no feet.”

I don’t know what to make of that.  You can feel as bad for him as you like; it will accomplish nothing.  The footless man has God-given talents that he is right to use to glorify God, creating prosperity for himself and others.

In the Parable of the Talents, the master entrusted one servant with ten talents, which he regarded with honor and used rightly, making ten more.  He entrusted another with five talents, which he regarded with honor and used rightly, making five more.  He entrusted a third with one talent, which he regarded with contempt and buried in the ground, making nothing.  The problem wasn’t the one talent, but his contempt.

There are those for whom life is a never-ending struggle to survive, for reason that they treat all their assets, their bootstraps, even a flash drive, with contempt.  The problem isn’t their poverty, but their contempt.

Every living human being has at least one God-given talent:  life itself.  How you use the life force determines how you feel, and therefore how you think, and therefore how you act.  It thus determines whether you make right use of your material assets and the opportunities life brings you.  This is the subject of next week’s post.

Related: Paying my dues, singing the blues?

———— ♦ ————

This is the first in a series of five posts:
“Just how bad do you think you’ve got it?” – Today
The Life Force: Use and abuse – May 17
Co-creators with God – May 24
The wandering will – May 31
The path of presence – June 7

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