I do remember sighing in the days of raising my five kids as I realized I put the baby’s shirt on backwards. Then I’d look at the toddler to find I also put his shirt on backwards. What are the odds? Really. Because somewhere in there it would also dawn on me that I had also put my shirt on backwards. Most of the time when I had all those babies, I never knew if we were coming or going.
My dad and his four siblings tell stories of their comings and goings that make me feel better. Or maybe worse. I’m not sure which. Because they tell stories of what happened when their mom was out with her five exceptionally active kids. If she lost track of two or three of them too many times in one trip, she would take a length of extra-long twine and harness them all together. I know what you’re thinking. It occurs to me, too, it was an extreme response. Also I wanted to say here that she was fit to be tied, but it just didn’t fit. Anyway, to hear the siblings tell it, they felt like a little family of mountain climbers. Still: oh my word.
Do you ever feel you’re at the end of your rope, so to speak? Life feels inexplicably backwards and you’re fit to be tied? I have good news. You can find blessing, even in the most overwhelming circumstances. As a matter of fact, there’s a special blessing that’s reserved exclusively for those who are at the end of their rope.
A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” Coming to the end of our rope? If it’s tied to coming to the end of ourselves, it’s not only good, but it’s needed.
Coming to the end of ourselves – realizing that on our own, our spiritual shirts are never really anything but backwards—can strip away pride and get our ego out of the way of what God desires to accomplish in and through us. It really is a place of blessing. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs,” (Matthew 5:3 CSB).
His grace meets us at the end of that rope. I had to chuckle when I read a paraphrase of that verse: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (MSG). It’s a different kind of coming and going. Selfishness goes. Spirit-led living comes. God rules.
Anytime we’re bent on tightening our grasp on that rope, guess what we end up with. More rope. But as we get to the end of self-sufficiency and reach instead for kingdom living through the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory to Him, we find sweet, sweet blessedness.
Incidentally, if you’re curious about how my dad and his siblings turned out, no social workers were called and the children grew into happy people—though probably with an inexplicable attraction to mountain climbing. They’re still a close family. Blessed be the tie that binds? Wait no. Just, still no.
As for my own story, you might be happy to hear that I did eventually get better at recognizing the backwards shirts. Inside-out, however? Yeah, not so much. I still do that