If I became a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, maybe I could make a big impact on our hurting world. Thatís what Iíve been pondering in prayer since learning about the manís incredible life. But of the many virtues of the medieval saint, one has been stumping me.
Francis spurned a wealthy inheritance and followed the instructions Jesus gave his disciples (two by two, no money, no shoes). I could do that. I donít have much wealth to begin with, and my feet would develop calluses.
Francis was patient, loving, and kind. Iíve raised three children and enjoyed much of the experience. Enough said?
Francis had respect for all creatures, and they responded to him in supernatural ways. I like animals.
Hereís where the catch comes in. Francis made serving Christ appealing at a time when the church was a laughing-stock because of widespread corruption. The main way he did this, it appears by all accounts, is that he embraced poverty.
Thatís correct; he embraced poverty.
Never mind that itís an unappealing prospect. The main point is I donít have a fortune to forsake for Christ. Who would be impressed if I go from living paycheck-to-paycheck to living handout-to-handout?
I was planning a road trip and discovered that in not-too-distant San Antonio there are missions built in the 1700s by Franciscans Ė followers of St. Francis. Of course I visited the ancient structures and took a lot of pictures. I even met a Franciscan who was kind and seemed peaceful. His name is Friar Larry, and he probably knows the Prayer of St. Francis well, the one starting with ďLord, make me an instrument of thy peace.Ē Friar Larry wore a sweat suit but put on the traditional brown robe, belt made of rope, and hood so I could take a picture of him.
Bluebonnets were in bloom, and God made His presence known. The trip was special but didnít lead me to the place of poverty I sought to embrace.
A desired opportunity to serve at church came up this week, one that requires submitting to someone who has been less than fair with me on many occasions.
My supervisor at work has of late made a practice of snubbing me. When it happened again this morning is when I got an answer to my prayer regarding how to embrace poverty.
ďBlessed are the poor in spirit,Ē Jesus says in Matthew 5:3.
The poor in spirit are humble ones who donít try to push Godís timing for promotion. They wait for God with patience and meekness. They arenít easily angered. They surrender their rights, which are precious to Texans like myself.
ĎIf youíre poor in spirit,í God whispered to my heart, Ďyouíll be embracing poverty. Youíll resemble St. Francis of Assisi and most importantly Jesus Christ.í
Thus I received an answer to my prayer. My obedience wonít require begging for food or going barefoot on hot concrete. However, I do plead with God for extra helpings of grace for this venture. Iím going to need it. After all, it doesnít seem like Iíll make a big impact, and thatís what I was going for.
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